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PRESS RELEASE – 7/27/2017

HRSA Response to Opioid Abuse with FQHC Grant Opportunity

 

Mental health (MH) & substance abuse (SA) diagnoses have life-long, costly effects on patients, families, communities, & employers. 27 million Americans use illicit drugs; 7 million have a SA diagnosis. Only 10%-20% receive any treatment, a shortfall that reflects the patient, healthcare delivery system, financial, and regulatory barriers. A main reason for the failure to address need has been separation between care for the SA diagnosis and the rest of the healthcare delivery system.

 

FQHCs are on the frontline of the healthcare system for primary care and behavioral health (BH), including the opioid epidemic.  Realizing this, HHS’ HRSA has announced a “Access Increases in MH & SA Services (AIMS)” $150K grant funding opportunity for FQHCs to expand access to MH services, and SA services focusing on the treatment, prevention, & awareness of opioid abuse. Contemporary Health Care, Inc. (EXEC) is providing AIMS technical assistance to FQHCs in multiple states to realize this important grant opportunity.

 

Primary care providers (PCP) such as FQHCs provide frontline MH & SA services for chronic pain & account for 50% of all prescription opioids dispensed. The CDC has targeted new opioid prescribiing guidelines to PCPs, recognizing their key role in managing chronic pain. And now, HRSA has picked up the ball and run with it relative to providing $150K to FQHCs - $75K ongoing funds added to the health centers’ Section 330 base and $75K one-time funds.

 

The overflow of prescription drugs is problematic in many states and areas of the country with 1990’s origin of the opioid epidemic and advent of pain management in the healthcare industry. Despite the stigma surrounding drug addiction, the opioid crisis touches a wide-range of the population, including people with stable lives, jobs, families and workplaces. No demographic is unaffected because opioid addiction doesn’t typically originate on the streets or with recreational use. It often begins in the physician’s office.

 

The need to start and expand MH/SA services and to integrate them with PC is critical with a specific focus on treatment, prevention, and awareness of opioid abuse.  BH diagnoses complicate the management of other chronic disease diagnoses. Evidence suggests integrating BH (MH/SA) & PC improves both physical health & BH conditions.

 

Changes in the healthcare delivery system have made the integration a more viable option for providers such as FQHCs. CHCI congratulates HRSA with the AIMS grant announcement and we wish all FQHCs success relative to their AIMS grant application, and hopefully, successful Notice of Award (NOA) along with the ability of being on the frontline to help curb this opioid epidemic.

 

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