The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced more than $80 million in awards to rural communities in 39 states to support key strategies to respond to the overdose risk from fentanyl and other opioids. These awards help advance President Biden’s commitment to beat the opioid epidemic as part of his Unity Agenda for the nation.
HRSA funding will support interventions such as distributing the lifesaving overdose reversal drug naloxone to prevent overdose; creating and expanding treatment sites in rural areas to provide medications to treat opioid use disorder; expanding access to behavioral health care for young people in rural communities; and, caring for infants in rural areas who are at-risk for opioid exposure or experiencing symptoms related to opioid exposure.
“Far too many rural families have faced the devastation of overdose, and these deaths are felt deeply across rural communities – where often everyone knows someone lost too soon,” said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson. “At the Health Resources and Services Administration, we know that funding based on population size or other broad-based rubrics can miss the vital treatment and response needs of rural communities. That’s why the investments we are announcing today are targeted to rural communities and tailored to the unique challenges of helping rural health care leaders expand access to treatment and build recovery pathways to prevent overdose.”
More than 100,000 people die each year from overdose. Individuals who call rural communities home and who are experiencing opioid use disorder – including from fentanyl, heroin or other opioids – can face challenges in accessing treatment and recovery services. Geographic isolation and transportation barriers can make finding treatment particularly challenging and limited mental health and substance use disorder health care providers in the community can further complicate access. The stigmatization of substance use disorder and its treatments are additional barriers to access. HRSA’s funding is targeted to helping communities address these critical needs and expand access to services.
Today’s announcement includes the following investments:
- Expanding Access to Medication to Treat Opioid Use Disorder: $24 million will support 26 awards to rural communities to establish treatment sites for individuals to access medications to treat opioid use disorder. The use of medication to manage opioid use disorder is the standard of care, but not always readily available.
- Supporting Rural Communities in Preventing and Responding to Overdoses: $14 million will support 47 awards to help rural communities respond to their specific and immediate needs, including the distribution of life-saving opioid overdose reversal medications.
- Meeting the Behavioral Health Needs of Young People: Nearly $9 million will support 9 awards to focus on building, strengthening and expanding mental health and substance use disorder services for young people in rural communities to expand treatment and help prevent overdose.
- Preventing and Addressing Neonatal Exposure: Nearly $20 million will support 41 awards to develop and implement interventions in rural communities to prevent, treat and care for opioid exposed infants by focusing on systems of care, family supports, and social determinants of health.
- Investing in and Disseminating Best Practices: $10 million will support three Rural Centers of Excellence on Substance Use Disorders to disseminate treatment and prevention best practices to help inform rural communities’ response strategies, and $5 million will support evaluation of this overall initiative.
To view the full list of awardees, see https://www.hrsa.gov/rural-health/opioid-response/fy2023-rcorp-awards-overview.
To learn more about the RCORP program, visit the RCORP Webpage.