HHS Secretary Announces $100 Million to Fight Opioid Epidemic

By Victoria Kim 07/31/15

Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell has been committed to fighting opioid addiction.

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Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell unveiled $100 million in funding to combat the nationwide opioid epidemic to a group of U.S. governors gathered in West Virginia last Saturday.

“This is money that will make a difference in your states, so let’s do it together,” she said, speaking in her home state, which is in the midst of its own opioid crisis.

Burwell’s commitment to fighting opioid addiction has become a major part of her tenure, as the number of addicts and overdose deaths from heroin and prescription painkillers reaches record-breaking levels. An HHS study released earlier this month revealed that heroin overdose deaths have quadrupled between 2002 and 2013.

The Hill reports that the new funding will go to community health centers in 11 states that are on the front lines of the fight against opioid addictions. The plan emphasizes medications like buprenorphine and equipping first responders with naloxone. However, the high cost of these medications challenges the practicality of their long-term application.

The $100 million was included in President Barack Obama’s budget for fiscal year 2016 earlier this year.

Ultimately, the administration’s promise to increase funding is uncertain, The Hill notes. “The funds must be appropriated by Congress, and Burwell acknowledged that this year’s budget for her department will be ‘some of the lowest levels of funding in a decade.’”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr

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