Congress members demand great flexibility with substance-use grants

Congress members demand great flexibility with substance-use grants

A bipartisan group of U.S. Congress members recently sent a letter to Elinore McCance-Katz, assistant secretary for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, requesting greater flexibility in federal Substance Use Disorder (SUD) grants.

Nationwide, groups have been working to eradicate the opioid epidemic. Their efforts helped ensure the passage of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act in October 2018. The law provides funding to states and health care providers for the expansion of telehealth services to help treat addiction, long-term mental health care services, and to purchase Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) that help treat addiction.

These services are especially critical for rural communities, the lawmakers said.

“However, to effectively work together to develop long-term, sustainable solutions to reduce substance use disorders in their communities, we encourage (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) to continue to offer greater flexibilities in SUD grants,” the letter said. “This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, while the economic downturn, rising unemployment, and other challenges associated with a second public health crisis can contribute to higher incidence rates of individuals grappling with SUD and mental health disorders. We are hoping that, with your partnership, the federal government can offer additional assistance to these communities.”