Health Reform WK-EDGE Obama proposes $1B in new funding to battle opioid abuse
Thursday, February 11, 2016

Obama proposes $1B in new funding to battle opioid abuse

By Anthony H. Nguyen, J.D.

President Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget proposal includes $1 billion in new mandatory funding over two years to expand access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use. The proposed funding would boost efforts to help individuals with an opioid use disorder seek treatment, successfully complete treatment, and sustain recovery.

President Obama has called for addressing the opioid overdose epidemic as a priority, as data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that opioids, which are a class of drugs that include prescription pain medications and heroin, were involved in 28,648 deaths in 2014.

The Administration has touted tools to reduce drug use and overdose, including evidence-based prevention programs, prescription drug monitoring, prescription drug take-back events, medication-assisted treatment, and the overdose reversal drug naloxone (see White House writes a prescription for better drug abuse prevention, October 22, 2015). In addition, under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148), substance use disorder services are required as essential health benefits by health plans offered in the health insurance marketplace. The ACA also required that covered substance use disorder benefits are comparable to medical and surgical benefits.

Funding allocations. Of the over $1 billion in new funds, $920 million would support cooperative agreements with states to expand access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders, $50 million would go to National Health Service Corps funding to expand access to substance use treatment providers, and $30 million to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment programs employing medication-assisted treatment under real-world conditions and help identify opportunities to improve treatment for patients with opioid use disorders.

In addition to the new funding, another $500 million, which is an increase of more than $90 million, would go to the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and HHS to expand state-level prescription drug overdose prevention strategies, increase the availability of medication-assisted treatment programs, improve access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone, and support targeted enforcement activities.

For more on President Obama’s proposed budget, see Presidential budget: $1.8T deficit reduction, health reform plays role, in this issue.

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