Department of Human Services Receives $3 Million Federal Grant to Fund Opioid Addiction Treatment in Rural Pennsylvania

July 15, 2016

Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Human Services (DHS) today announced it received a nearly $3 million federal grant to double the number of primary care physicians delivering high-quality medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in rural Pennsylvania.

The grant funds will be used to educate and train primary care providers to deliver high-quality Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) treatment, focus on the details of implementation within primary care, facilitate coordination among the broader health system and community-based resources, provide access to clinical specialists, and link participating practices with hubs who can guide them towards a sustainable MAT program.

“The opioid abuse and heroin use epidemic affects all Pennsylvanians, from the most urban areas to the most rural,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “My administration has been working diligently to serve all of our citizens, no matter their location, and help folks struggling with addiction overcome their disease. I’m thrilled that we have been given the opportunity to expand our efforts through this federal grant.”

“When Governor Wolf expanded Medicaid we were able to provide critical access to health care coverage for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians,” said DHS Secretary Ted Dallas. “This next step will allow us to expand the high-quality care available in the rural parts of the state where finding the resources needed to combat opioid addiction may be more challenging.”

“I am very pleased to hear of the federal support that will double the number of primary care physicians who can provide Medication Assisted Treatment to those suffering from the disease of addiction,” said Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23). “As Chairman of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, I presided over 10 public hearings on the opioid and heroin public health epidemic facing our commonwealth. We consistently heard that a full continuum of care must be available to those seeking help, especially MAT. In rural Pennsylvania, where 34% of its citizens live in Medically Underserved Areas, the need for more specialty trained medical professionals and treatment options is critical. In light of the most recent Drug Enforcement Agency’s report of overdose deaths in Pennsylvania, this investment of federal funds is most timely and warranted.”

The three-year grant, Increasing Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment in Rural Primary Care Practices, begins on September 30, 2016. DHS will partner with the HealthChoices’ Medicaid managed care organizations, and the University of Pittsburgh Health Policy Institute, along with existing MAT providers who will participate in DHS’ Centers of Excellence initiative to recruit, engage, and support rural primary care practices to provide high-quality MAT.

“The receipt of this grant builds upon yesterday’s announcement of the Centers of Excellence selection,” said Dallas. “The Wolf Administration is committed to attacking this epidemic from all angles and this grant will provide one more avenue from which to do so.”

DHS will use these grant funds to implement solutions for overcoming barriers to implementation of MAT in primary care:

  • There will be an implementation team, including MAT and primary care practice management experts, who regularly visit practices to assist providers in adding MAT services to their practice.
  • Practices will be able to participate in webinars by addiction experts to review complex opioid case studies to improve their own treatment capabilities.
  • Peer-to-peer teleconsultation will be available for physicians to speak with an on-call addiction specialist who can offer insight and expert advice on complex patients and MAT.
  • Coordinated telepsychiatry services will be available for patients of participating practices.

MAT is an evidence-based approach to treating OUD that uses FDA-approved medications (buprenorphine, injectable naltrexone, etc.) in combination with behavioral health treatments. MAT is a safe and effective strategy for decreasing the frequency and quantity of opioid use and reducing the risk of overdose and death. MAT is used in combination with appropriate levels of addiction and behavioral health treatment.

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