Senators announce grant funding to expand rural substance use disorder treatment


Minnesota’s two Democratic U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith announced the University of Minnesota has received $1 million in grant funding from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services to expand rural substance use disorder treatment.

Part of the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program, the grant money will be used to increase access to treatment, reduce unmet treatment needs, and implement addiction prevention programs, the senators said Friday.

“The opioid epidemic is hurting communities across Minnesota—none have been immune from its devastating effects,” Klobuchar said. “This crucial funding will increase our commitment to proven prevention strategies and expand access to treatment for those suffering from addiction.”

Both senators have introduced several pieces of legislation over the past two years to address the opioid epidemic. In 2018, Klobuchar introduced three bipartisan bills – the Synthetic Abuse and Labeling of Toxic Substances (SALTS) Act, which Klobuchar introduced with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, which Klobuchar introduced with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), and the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act, which Klobuchar introduced with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) – all of which were passed as part of the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act.

In 2019, Smith introduced the Native Behavioral Health Access Improvement Act to create a behavioral health program to help Tribes develop solutions that include culturally-appropriate efforts aimed at prevention, treatment, and recovery. Sen. Smith’s bill would set up the Special Behavioral Health Program for Indians.

“The opioid epidemic has been devastating to families all across Minnesota, and has hit rural areas particularly hard,” said Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Health Committee. “We need to continue acting on this emergency with the seriousness and resources it demands. I’m glad to see this investment in expanding treatment in rural areas through the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program.”