April 25, 2017
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. has announced that the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will be awarded $13.8 million through the 21st Century Cures Act to help combat the prescription opioid epidemic in Tennessee. This is the largest single federal funding increase for opioid treatment in the state’s history.
In his letter to governors, Secretary Price wrote, in part, “As I begin my tenure as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), I do so with a profound commitment to addressing this public health crisis as one of our top three Departmental priorities. Opioids were responsible for over 33,000 deaths in 2015; this alarming statistic is unacceptable to me. We cannot continue to lose our nation’s citizens to addiction. Through a sustained focus on people, patients, and partnerships, I am confident that together we can turn the tide on this public health crisis.”
“Last year, Leader McConnell called 21st Century Cures ‘the most important legislation of the year,’ and Wednesday’s announcement – nearly $14 million to help fight Tennessee’s ongoing opioid epidemic – is just one example of the real help this bill is delivering to Tennessee families,” Sen. Lamar Alexander said. “Opioid abuse or overdose kills more Tennesseans every year than gunshots or car wrecks, and this funding will send a substantial boost to those on the front lines of a battle that is being waged state by state, county by county, doctor’s office by doctor’s office.”
In Tennessee, it is estimated that 69,100 individuals are addicted to prescription opioids and require treatment for prescription opioid abuse. Another 151,900 Tennesseans are using prescription opioids in ways that could be harmful, and they may benefit from early intervention strategies.
“This announcement creates great optimism as we build upon the efforts already underway to address the opioid epidemic in our state,” said Governor Bill Haslam. “Far too many Tennesseans have been impacted by opioid abuse and this substantial increase in funding is vitally important as we continue to fight this public health crisis in Tennessee.”
“We are extremely grateful for this historic opportunity to transform the lives of so many Tennesseans impacted by the opioid epidemic,” Marie Williams, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, said. “We have been working closely with our federal and community partners to ensure that these new dollars will be used to expand the much needed services to as many Tennesseans struggling with opioid substance use disorder as possible. In Tennessee, we know what works. We have a statewide network of community providers standing by, ready and able to do what is needed now that we are taking a monumental step towards closing the gap in funding.”
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