Washington, DC — On March 11, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced $20 million in Affordable Care Act funding to 20 Massachusetts health centers to improve and expand the delivery of substance abuse services in health centers, with a specific focus on the treatment of opioid use disorders in underserved populations. The Massachusetts’ awards were part of $94 million in grants distributed to 271 health centers across 45 states.
“The opioid epidemic is one of the most pressing public health issues in the United States today,” said Secretary Burwell. “Expanding access to medication-assisted treatment and integrating these services in health centers bolsters nationwide efforts to curb opioid misuse and abuse, supports approximately 124,000 new patients accessing substance use treatment for recovery and helps save lives.”
The abuse of and addiction to opioids, such as heroin and prescription pain medication, is a serious and increasing public health problem. Approximately 4.5 million people in the United States were non-medical prescription pain reliever users in 2013, and an estimated 289,000 were current heroin users. HHS also estimates the number of unintentional overdose deaths from prescription pain medications has nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2013, and deaths related to heroin increased 39 percent between 2012 and 2013.