Integration of health centers and primary care to provide opioid addiction treatment services is essential.

HHS on Monday said it will award $195 million to community health centers to increase access to mental health and substance abuse services, including opioid addiction treatment.

The funding supports the Trump administration’s larger effort to combat the opioid epidemic by integrating substance abuse treatment into primary care. The grants will be awarded in September.

Selected health centers will use the grants to hire additional staff dedicated to mental health and substance abuse treatment services. The providers will also increase access to health information technology and training support. HHS will provide rural community health centers with an additional $3 million to expand opioid addiction treatment.

Advocates for Opioid Recovery’s Executive Director Anne Woodbury stated that “the union of opioid addiction into primary care is critical to fight the epidemic.” She continued, saying “Primary-care providers must be armed with the training and tools to identify patients who may be suffering from opioid addiction and the means to treat them with evidence-based approaches. We can’t just depend on specialists to treat this epidemic. We need primary care.”

She went on to say that “The health centers should also plan to increase access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with their additional funds. It is important that the money is being spent on treatments that work for opioid addiction.”

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