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HHS Will Award $195 Million to Health Centers to Leverage Health IT

June 27, 2017
by Heather Landi
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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the availability of $195 million in a new funding opportunity for community health centers to expand access to mental health and substance abuse services focusing on the treatment, prevention and awareness of opioid abuse in all U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia. The awards are expected to be made in September of this year.

Health centers that receive an award will use the funds to increase the number of personnel dedicated to mental health and substance abuse services and to leverage health information technology and training to support the expansion of mental health and substance abuse services and their integration into primary care. 

“Addressing serious mental illness across our nation and combating the opioid epidemic are two of the Department’s top priorities,” HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D., said in a statement. “Integration is key to solving these challenges. This funding will help our nation’s health centers provide that integration for mental health services and opioid addiction treatment.”

“Providing behavioral health care in a primary medical care setting reduces costs and leads to improved patient outcomes,” George Sigounas, M.D., administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), said. “This is especially true when it comes to substance abuse, including opioid addiction.”

HRSA’s Health Center Program provides funding to community-based health care providers in underserved areas. Nearly 1,400 community health centers operate at more than 10,400 sites, providing care to over 24 million people across the nation, in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Pacific Basin.

Today, health centers employ nearly 190,000 people. With this new funding opportunity, health centers will be able to increase personnel to help expand access to mental health services and substance abuse services.

Applications for the Access Increases for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (AIMS) award are due July 26, 2017.

Additionally, the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) is making $3 million available to expand opioid-related healthcare services in rural communities. The grants will support up to 12 grantees for three years. Applications for the FORHP program are due July 21, 2017. 

HHS has outlined five specific strategies to combat the ongoing opioid crisis: improving access to treatment and recovery services; targeting availability and distribution of overdose-reversing drugs; strengthening timely public health data and reporting; supporting cutting-edge research; and advancing the practice of pain management.

More information about the AIMS award can be found here: https://bphc.hrsa.gov/programopportunities/fundingopportunities/supplement/, and information about HRSA’s Health Center Program, can be found here: http://bphc.hrsa.gov/about.

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