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Mental Health and Addiction Groups Call on Congress to Prioritize High-Impact SUD Programs

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Shelley Starkey

Mental Health and Addiction Groups Call on Congress to Prioritize High-Impact SUD Programs

February 22, 2018 | Federal Budget | Comments
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Alongside the most recent budget deal, Congress allocated $6 billion over the next two years to address the nation’s opioid epidemic. In response, 27 mental health and addiction groups, including the National Council, called on Congress to direct the money into nationally-recognized, evidence-based programs and practices. These programs and practices include: mental health and substance use block grants, the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic program, the Opioid State Target Response grants and SAMHSA.

As it stands, the funding package is set to provide states with grants to fight drug use, and expand substance use and mental health treatment. States that have been particularly hard-hit by opioid overdose deaths will see additional assistance. In their letter to key Congressional leaders, the 27 leading behavioral health organizations voiced support for and recommended action on the following programs:

  • Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant: The SAPT block grant supports about 2 million individuals receiving treatment for substance use disorders (SUD) each year and accounts for almost a third of public funds expended for SUD prevention and treatment. The President suggested adding $13 million to the block grant in his Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal. Advocates say this proposal will not be enough to overcome years of insufficient funding, and therefore are asking for some of the $6 billion to help bolster this important program.
  • Opioid State Targeted Response (Opioid STR) Grants: These grants were created under the 21st Century Cures Act, and are meant to support states based on their identified unmet need for opioid use disorder treatment and prevention of drug overdose deaths. Advocates are calling on Congress to continue funding for these grants beyond their current expiration in 2018.
  • Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act: This two-year, eight-state demonstration program expands Americans’ access to mental health and addiction care through the establishment of federally-recognized Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs). In the first year of the demonstration, the participating states have shown increased treatment capacity, the ability to offer more evidence-based treatments, and better collaboration with other community stakeholders. Advocates are urging Congress to allocate funding to expand the demonstration to more states and for more years.
  • SAMHSA’s Centers for Substance Abuse Prevention and Substance Abuse Treatment: These two offices in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) support regional and national programs to improve the adoption of evidence-based addiction care, bolster prevention activities, and ensure the availability of recovery supports. Funding for these offices has also stagnated in recent years, therefore advocates have suggested providing funding increases for these critical offices.

In the words of the 27 organizations that signed onto the letter to Congressional leadership, “There has never been a more important time for Congress and our communities to join together to combat the opioid epidemic and increase Americans’ access to care.” Read the full letter here.