The White House is asking for $1 billion in new mandatory funding to tackle the opioid crisis in its fiscal year 2017 budget. A hefty $920 million would be allocated to states over two years to help them increase the use of medication assisted treatment (MAT).
Currently 22 states receive MAT funding, and the new proposal would increase the number to 45.
“Medication assisted treatment is an important part of our strategy,” said Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell in a press call today.
She also said that the vast majority of the money is aimed at closing the treatment gap. In her recent talks with lawmakers, she has heard countless stories of increases in overdose deaths related to opioid misuse and heroin. She believes no community is immune to the crisis and that Congressional leaders are looking for solutions.
“Dealing with the heroin epidemic is an area that is ripe for collaboration . . . We have a tremendous amount of bipartisan support around this opioid epidemic in terms of appropriation and legislation,” said Michael Botticelli, director of the Office of the National Drug Control Policy, on the call.
He also said that leaders are currently reviewing a number of reports that the president previously requested from federal agencies late last year—reports that specifically address barriers to MAT and what should be done about them.
An additional $50 million in the proposal will fund approximately 700 providers to offer substance use disorder treatment services in areas across the country most in need of those clinical resources. A remaining $30 million is earmarked to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment programs employing MAT and to identify opportunities for improvement.
Previously, December’s spending bill included funding increases from $34 million to $127 million to address addiction issues, but this new proposal sets the bar higher with more than $500 million in 2017 and 2018.