INDIANAPOLIS (March 30, 2016) – More than $1 million is earmarked for Indiana to help fight the nation’s drug epidemic.
President Obama unveiled a new federal plan Tuesday at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, signifying a shift in focus from crime to public health.
“Because it’s important,” Obama said. “It’s costing lives, and it’s devastating communities.”
The plan expands and includes the $1.1 billion budget proposal to fight the nation’s heroin problem.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to hear the president articulate some of the things public health folks have been saying for a long time,” Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams said.
Adams, who attended the president’s panel discussion, also presented before a national audience Tuesday, explaining the state’s response to the HIV epidemic linked to drug use.
“The entire country is still fascinated by what happened in Scott County,” Adams said. “We’ve got to get together, get on the same page and figure out how we can work together, and that’s what all states are saying.”
The Obama plan expands access to treatment by awarding $94 million to 271 community health centers nationwide, including $1.5 million earmarked for four centers in Indiana.
“We can’t provide all those services just at an addition clinic,” Margie Payne said, CEO of Eskenazi Health Midtown Community Mental Health Center, which received more than $300,000.
Payne said the funds will be used during the next two years to partner with primary care physicians, educating on proper prescribing practices and mental health therapies.
The goal is to expand access to treatment nationwide.
“The problem is so huge,” Payne said. “We can manage the ones that are constantly abusing and needing that high intensives services, but there are folks on just the opioids who need to come off of them.”
Other parts of the federal plan include investment money into community policing focused on heroin, along with guidance on using federal funds to implement or expand needle exchange services.
“It is so much more expensive for us not to make these front-end investments because we end up with jails full of folks who can’t function when they get out,” Obama said.
Meantime this week, the Indiana State Department of Health learned it will receive $3.3 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help track prescription drug abuse and deaths.