Vermont Business Magazine Senator Patrick Leahy welcomed the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Monday announcement that Vermont will receive an allocation of $4 million in fiscal year 2018 to fight the opioid epidemic across the state. The funding, a significant increase over past years, is part of a new State Opioid Response Grant program created as part of the Leahy-negotiated 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act signed into law this spring. Vermont’s $4 million grant is a direct result of language that Leahy fought for in the bill guaranteeing each state at least $4 million to fight this deadly crisis.
The State Opioid Response Grants Program aims to address the opioid crisis by increasing access to medication-assisted treatment, reducing unmet treatment need, and reducing opioid overdose related deaths through the provision of prevention, treatment and recovery activities for opioid use disorder, which includes prescription opioids, heroin, illicit fentanyl and fentanyl analogs. In all, $930 million through 59 grants, is being distributed throughout the United States.
Leahy said: “I fought hard to make sure that the omnibus spending act included this critical provision to make sure that small states like Vermont have the funds that they need to fight this deadly epidemic. As I travel around the state, I have seen firsthand what opioids are doing to our close-knit Vermont communities and have worked hard with community leaders, healthcare providers and law enforcement to make sure that we are tackling this monumental challenge from all angles. Thanks to Vermont’s innovative hub-and-spoke method and the efforts of communities across the state we are making progress, but more remains to be done.”
In 2017, Vermont saw opioid-related deaths increase by 5 percent to a total of 101. Furthermore, fentanyl deaths spiked by 30 percent and, according to the Vermont Department of Health, fentanyl was involved in two-thirds of all opioid-related fatalities. In the same year, Naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an overdose, was distributed to 2,336 people statewide and administered 99 times by EMS, according to the Statewide Incident Reporting Network.
“None of us are immune to the effects of the opioid epidemic. It doesn’t matter if you live in New York City or rural Vermont,” said Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who serves on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
“Solving the opioid epidemic is not a simple thing. We must make sure people have access to treatment, so they can get help where and when they need it. We must invest in what people need for a successful long-term recovery, like counseling and peer support, employment, and housing. And it means taking a hard look at the issues in our society that are causing so many people to turn to drugs in the first place, so that we can prevent others from becoming addicted. This funding will be an important tool in this fight,” said Sanders.
Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vermont) said, “The opioid epidemic is ravaging communities in Vermont and across the nation. Our first responders, local law enforcement, health care providers, treatment facilities and service organizations are on the front lines of this public health emergency. But they can’t do it alone. This additional funding will provide them the resources they need to continue fighting this crisis head on.”
In April, Leahy visited Richmond to announce that his efforts negotiating the 2018 omnibus appropriations act had created the State Opioid Response Grant Program and its increased state minimum would result in double the resources this year for local programs to address this crisis. Community leaders, healthcare providers and law enforcement stressed the impact that the funds announced today will have on local opioid response efforts.
The $4 million is in addition to $2 million that Vermont received in April as part of the final round of funding under the 21st Century Cures Act, which Leahy voted for and became law in 2016. The funding announced today is part of $6 billion in new funding over 2 years, which Leahy and other Congressional Democrats secured in February’s bipartisan budget deal, to be distributed nationwide to strengthen responses to the opioid epidemic across many fronts, including prevention, treatment, enforcement and support for those in recovery. Leahy, as Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was instrumental in negotiating the funding framework to fulfill this promise that included the state minimum.
The State of Vermont will now go through an application process to ensure that its spend plan for the $4 million complies with program guidelines. SAMHSA expects the funds will be released to states in September.
Source: (MONDAY, June 18, 2018) — Senator Patrick Leahy