• ‘Help is on the way’ in opioid addiction fight, says Rep. Fred Upton

    By Malachi Barrett, mlive.com

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday a distribution of grants toward helping states combat opioid addiction plaguing communities.

    Michigan was awarded $16.3 million, based on its rate of overdose deaths and unmet need for opioid addiction treatment. A portion of $485 million in grants will go to each state toward prevention and treatment of opioid abuse, administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

    “We fought hard to include this funding to aid in this public health crisis,” said U.S. Rep. Fred Upton in a statement Wednesday. “Now, we’re delivering. To those in the midst of this fight: Help is on the way.”

    Upton, R-St. Joseph, applauded the first of two rounds of grants provided though his 21st Century Cures Act. The legislation was approved last year by Congress and signed by former President Barack Obama.

    “It seems like everyone I meet is in some way impacted by this tragic opioid epidemic,” Upton said. “These grants will directly help those in need here in Southwest Michigan and across the country. I applaud the administration for getting these grants out in an expedited manner.”

    Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price described the situation as an “opiod crisis” Wednesday, also saying President Donald Trump’s administration shares his commitment to ending it.

    According to HHS, Price sent a letter to governors whose states are receiving grants, which states opioids were responsible for over 33,000 deaths in 2015;.

    “This alarming statistic is unacceptable to me,” he said in the letter. “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.”

    Five specific strategies will guide its work: strengthening public health surveillance, advancing the practice of pain management, improving access to treatment and recovery services, targeting availability and distribution of overdose-reversing drugs, and supporting cutting-edge research.

    The District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, and the free associated states of Palau and Micronesia will also be eligible for the $485 million.

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