Even before the United States entered into the era of the coronavirus illness (COVID-19), only 13 percent of the approximately 21 million people who needed treatment for a substance use disorder received it. Add to this the economic and social burdens facing Americans and this percentage has only likely decreased. With most states not covering a full panel of substance use disorder treatment through Medicaid, the response to opioid and other drug misuse has not been as strong as it could be. The American Rescue Plan may offer hope.
The $1.9 trillion comprehensive legislative package aims to address social inequities heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Among many of its provisions that can boost Medicaid is one year of enhanced federal funding for home-and community-based services – services that can be tailored toward substance use treatment. States can also expand their coverage and services, especially to those who are most in need under the new law.
Another example of expanded Department of Health and Human Services funding that supports behavioral health and substance use disorders is the almost $2.5 billion dollars for block grant programs through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Both the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant and the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant help states and territories address gaps in services and support providers in meeting patient needs.
A full list of health-care related provisions of the American Rescue Plan is available through the National Academy for State Health Policy. Given that substance abuse costs the United States over $600 billion each year, better ensuring that prevention and treatment reaches all who need it is an important step in securing a more healthy nation.
About the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP)
The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP), a non-profit organization founded in 2011 by the White House, represents the technology sector and commerce intermediaries including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Oath, UPS, PayPal, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and .Health. CSIP’s mission is to promote industry best practices as it relates to illegal online pharmacies, and educating consumers about safe purchasing of prescription drugs.