Shaheen Calls on HHS Secretary to Distribute Unused Funding Provided by Congress for Youth Substance Use PreventionOctober 21, 2019
**Earlier today, Shaheen called on Senate Appropriations Committee leadership to provide flexibility for funding used to treat substance use disorders**
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, called on Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alexander Azar to release unused funds that have been identified from previous fiscal years for the Drug Free Communities (DFC) Support Program to be distributed to prevention programs. The DFC Support Program provides funding to local organizations who work to prevent and reduce substance use among America’s youth. This program plays a particularly important role in many Granite State communities as New Hampshire remains on the frontlines of the substance use disorder epidemic.
Senator Shaheen recently attended a roundtable discussion with ONDCP Director Carroll and New Hampshire recipients of DFC program funding. She was able to hear from community coalitions about their work and the need for additional funding to reach New Hampshire communities. Funding for the DFC Support Program is administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
“Communities in New Hampshire and across the nation have been devastated by the opioid epidemic in recent years,” wrote Shaheen in her letter. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70,237 drug overdose deaths occurred in the U.S. in 2017, including 47,000 deaths involving opioids. Overdose deaths from opioids have increased almost six fold since 1999. We must make every effort now to address this epidemic with the funding that has been made available by Congress.”
SAMSHA has approximately $2.5 million in unused funds from previous fiscal years in the DFC support program account. As the agency that administers the grant program, SAMSHA has failed to distribute that funding despite receiving qualified applicants in fiscal year 2019.
Senator Shaheen has spearheaded the fight against the substance use disorder epidemic in the Senate. She helped negotiate the bipartisan agreement in 2018 that outlined the two years of opioid response spending – totaling $6 billion to respond to the opioid crisis. This included the set-aside funding for states with the highest mortality rates, like New Hampshire. This critical additional funding, which the Senator helped broker, has been included by Congress over the last two fiscal years. As a result of her efforts, New Hampshire received a more than ten-fold increase in opioid treatment funding through the State Opioid Response (SOR) grant program.
Earlier today, Shaheen called on Senate Appropriations Committee leadership to provide flexibility for funding used to treat substance use disorders by allowing SOR grant dollars to address other substance use disorders in addition to opioid misuse – a proposal Shaheen put forward in her Turn the Tide Act. In New Hampshire, methamphetamine-related deaths have risen sharply this year. Shaheen’s bill would help tackle the substance use epidemic and provide resources for Granite Staters struggling with substance misuse. The Turn the Tide Act provides $63 billion in funding over ten years to deliver flexible treatment funding to providers, establish proven prevention programs and address the substantial workforce challenges in the treatment field. Included in the Turn the Tide Act is new authority for states to use SOR grant dollars to facilitate treatment and recovery supports for any individual with a substance use disorder diagnosis, rather than only for individuals with a primary diagnosis of opioid use disorder.
Shaheen’s letter to HHS Secretary Azar can be read in full here.
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