SAMHSA Seeks $10.8 Billion in FY 2024 for Mental Health and Substance Use Services

The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2024 included $10.8 billion for SAMHSA to continue to tackle the Mental Health or Substance Use crises. The proposed funding includes $2.0 billion for the State Opioid Response (SOR) grant program. The program shares funding with states to address public health crises caused by opioid mismanagement and substance use disorder. Of the $2.0 billion set aside for SOR grants, $75 million will be used for Tribal Opioid Response grant program to provide support similar to SOR for tribal communities. $2.7 billion has been set aside for the Substance Use Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Support Block Grant. The purpose of this funding is two-fold. First, the agency is changing the wording from “Abuse” to “Use” to reduce stigma and encourage individuals to seek treatment. The Block Grant will also fund individuals, their families, and communities to support access to prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery tools and services needed to reduce substance misuse. The budget includes a request to set aside $270 million to ensure and expand the continuum of care supports and services. The President’s Budget also offers $50 million for Community Harm Reduction and Engagement Initiatives. This new program would provide funding to state, local, tribal, and territory governments and NGOs’ efforts to close gaps in substance use care and support community harm reduction activities.

Articles & Resources

SAMHSA – SAMSHA Seeks $10.8 Billion in Fiscal Year 2024 to Bolster Mental Health and Substance Use Services Across Nation

SAMHSA – SAMHSA Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Proposal

DOJ Files Complaint Against Rite Aid

On March 13, the Justice Department announced a complaint against Rite Aid Corporation alleging that the company filled illegal prescriptions for controlled substances and violated the False Claims Act and the Controlled Substances Act. The complaint claims that from May 2014 to June 2019, Rite Aid filled hundreds of thousands of illegal prescriptions for controlled substances that lacked a medical purpose, did not have a medically accepted indication, or were not the traditional course of practice or treatment. The complaint also claims that Rite Aid pharmacists were filling prescriptions that were highly addictive, abnormally large quantities of opioids, such as oxycodone and fentanyl, and filling prescriptions for internally flagged illegitimate prescribers. The complaint alleges that distributors and internal Rite Aid alerts notified the company of the issue but Rite Aid failed to act. The complaint further alleges that Rite Aid intentionally dispensing illegal prescriptions for controlled substances and requesting reimbursement from federal healthcare programs violated the Controlled Substances Act and False Claims Act. Attorney General Merrick Garland stated, “The Justice Department is using every tool at our disposal to confront the opioid epidemic that is killing Americans and shattering communities across the country. That includes holding corporations, like Rite Aid, accountable for knowingly filling unlawful prescriptions for controlled substances.”

Articles & Resources

United States of America v. Rite Aid Corporation – Complaint

Department of Justice – United States Files Complaint Alleging that Rite Aid Dispensed Controlled Substances in Violation of the False Claims Act and Controlled Substances Act

What We Read Last Week

Several articles were published last week pertaining to the opioid epidemic, covering a variety of different components of the topic. Links to relevant articles are provided below.

The Hill – The DEA’s New Telehealth Rules are Medical Malpractice for People with Opioid Addiction

Fox News – Laguna Beach USD Joins Growing List of California Schools to Keep Overdose Reversal Drug on Campus

JAMA – Quality of Opioid Use Disorder Treatment for Persons With and Without Disabling Conditions

Kaiser Health News – New CDC Opioid Guidelines: Too Little, Too Late for Chronic Pain Patients?

LA Times – Feds knew for years fentanyl-tainted pills from Mexican pharmacies were killing Americans

NPR – Are harsher fentanyl sentences the solution to the opioid crisis? Experts say no

Psychology Today – The Frightening Truth About Youth Suicidality and Fentanyl

Senator Ed Markey – Senator Markey, Rep. Trone Call for State Department to Issue Travel Advisory for Mexico Amid Reports of Fentanyl-Laced, Counterfeit Prescription Pills Sold to U.S. Vistors

Washington Post – Tribes And Others Fight To Keep McKinsey Opioid Suit Alive

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