NC receives $12 million grant to fight opioid epidemic

The funds will be used for prevention, access to treatment and improved links to care

The Sanford Herald, N.C.

RALEIGH, N.C. —  North Carolina will receive a $12 million grant to continue its fight against the opioid epidemic, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday. The funds will be used for prevention, access to treatment and improved links to care.

"The opioid crisis harms families, communities and our economy and we're tackling it head-on to save lives," the governor said in a news release. "This grant will help prevent overdose deaths and expand access to treatment, which provides a path to recovery."

This new award comes in addition to $54 million already received from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

To date, the total funding has provided treatment for 12,000 North Carolinians suffering from opioids, the release states. The latest installment of the grant will continue treatment for people already receiving it and expand care to new people. The funding will also help bolster prevention strategies across the state and build mechanisms to connect individuals to care.

An estimated 450,000 North Carolinians – one out of every 20 – are living with an "opioid-use disorder." Over the past 20 years, more than 12,000 North Carolinians have died from an opioid overdose. In 2018 alone, there were 6,769 emergency visits due to opioid overdoses. Approximately half of people who are hospitalized with an opioid overdose do not have health insurance.

Expanding Medicaid in North Carolina would help fight the opioid epidemic by enabling more North Carolinians suffering from substance-use disorders to get treatment.

Medicaid covers a wide range of life-saving treatments for individuals with opioid-use disorder, including inpatient and outpatient treatment, rehabilitation and medication-assisted treatment.

Those with access to affordable health care through Medicaid are twice as likely as the uninsured to receive treatment, according to the release.

"One of the most powerful tools for addressing the opioid epidemic is providing access to health care through affordable insurance coverage," N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. said in the release. "We've seen the impact firsthand in states that have expanded access to health insurance. After Ohio closed its insurance coverage gap, 75% of uninsured enrollees with opioid-use disorder experienced improved access to care. And Dayton, Ohio -- ground zero of the opioid epidemic -- saw a 54% decrease in opioid deaths. We need every tool in our arsenal to fight this epidemic."


©2019 The Sanford Herald (Sanford, N.C.)

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