WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Health Resources and Services Administration, announced the awarding of $18,408,612 to Georgia last week to combat the opioid crisis. The investments will enable HRSA-funded community health centers, rural organizations and academic institutions supporting residents in Georgia establish and expand access to integrated substance use disorder and mental health services

The awards support HHS’s Five-Point Opioid Strategy, introduced under President Trump in 2017. The number of patients receiving medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction at HRSA-funded health centers increased 142% from 2016 to 2018 and, since Trump took office, the number of patients receiving buprenorphine, a common form of MAT, has increased 28%.

“Health centers and behavioral health providers are on the front lines of the fight against the opioid crisis and substance abuse, especially in rural communities,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. “With our evidence-based strategy, HHS is working to support local communities in fighting back against substance abuse, and our united efforts are yielding results. Together, we can end our country’s opioid crisis and lay a foundation for a healthier country where every American can access the mental health care they need.”

“HRSA programs play a key role in the efforts to battle the nation’s opioid crisis,” said HRSA Acting Administrator Tom Engels. “From implementing and expanding substance use disorder services at HRSA-funded health centers to increasing support and training to our nation’s behavioral health work force to improving access to treatment in rural areas, this announcement demonstrates the administration’s commitment to ending this crisis.”

Georgia is receiving $5,495,978 to increase access to high-quality, integrated behavioral health services, including the prevention or treatment of mental health conditions and/or substance use disorders, including opioid use disorder through the Integrated Behavioral Health Services program. Nationally, HRSA is awarding more than $200 million to 1,208 health in all states through the IBHS program.

In addition to HRSA’s investments in community health centers, HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy is awarding more than $111 million to 96 rural organizations across 37 states as part of its Rural Communities Opioid Response Program initiative. Georgia will receive $10,666,666. These funds, which also include an evaluation of the initiative, will strengthen rural communities’ capacity to provide needed SUD prevention, treatment, and recovery services and build the evidence base for interventions that are effective in rural settings.

Eighty rural consortia received RCORP-Implementation awards of $1 million each to implement a set of prevention, treatment and recovery activities.

Twelve recipients received RCORP-Medication-Assisted Treatment Expansion awards of up to $725,000 each to establish and/or expand MAT in rural health clinic, hospital, Health Center Look-Alike and tribal settings.

Three recipients received $6.6 million each to establish Centers of Excellence on Substance Use Disorders that will identify, translate, disseminate and implement evidence-based and promising practices related to the treatment for and prevention of substance use disorder.

The list of RCORP recipients is available at www.hrsa.gov/rural-health/rcorp.

Nationally, HRSA is also awarding nearly $70 million to Opioid Workforce Expansion Programs for Professionals and Paraprofessionals to fund 64 grantees and over $17 million to Graduate Psychology Education Program to fund 49 grantees. Georgia will receive $1,346,150 in OWEP funding and $899,818 in GPE funding.

The awards support training across the behavioral health provider spectrum including community health workers, social workers, psychology interns and post-doctoral residents. \

These programs encourage an integrated approach to training through academic and community partnerships. These workforce investments help clinicians to provide integrated behavioral health care and treatment services in underserved communities.