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U.S. Sen. Capito announces large funding opportunity to fight opioid epidemic West Virginia

West Virginia Press Association

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Today, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS), announced that West Virginia is eligible for nearly $46 million in federal aid from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to fight the opioid crisis through its State Opioid Response (SOR) program.

“In our battle against the addiction crisis, we must continue to connect West Virginia’s substance use and prevention organizations with the resources they need. That’s why through my role on the Appropriations Committee—and now as the top Republican of the Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee—I have worked hard to make sure our state has the resources it needs to combat the crisis, including creating new solutions like the measure I authored to prioritize funds for states hardest hit by the crisis. This funding opportunity can open more doors to help West Virginia overcome the challenge drugs, especially deadly opioids like fentanyl, pose in our communities,” Ranking Member Capito said.

BACKGROUND:

According to recent provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdoses nationally fell from 111,029 in 2022 to 107,543 in 2023, a 3% decrease. However, during that same period, the data suggests that opioid overdoses rose 1.34% in West Virginia.

Because of language authored by Ranking Member Capito to prioritize states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, West Virginia is eligible for $45,758,863 in SOR funds in Fiscal Year (FY) 2024, a larger portion than the state would have been eligible for had she not secured that language.

Specifically, Ranking Member Capito raised this issue in 2017 during the HHS Budget Request hearing when initial discussions began on how to assist the hardest-hit states. Prior to this change, funds were distributed by population, which often puts West Virginia at a disadvantage for greatly needed resources. Ranking Member Capito’s language sets aside 15% for states with the highest mortality rates from opioid use. This 15% set aside amount led to millions in additional funds for West Virginia. Without this language, West Virginia would have received significantly less as part of the state formula.

SAMHSA SOR funding includes resources to:

  • Build on opioid overdose reversal medication (Naloxone and Nalmefene) saturation efforts, ensuring these medications are in the hands of those most likely to witness an overdose.
  • Increase the focus on the full continuum of prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery support services for transitional-aged youth and young adults (ages 16-25). 
  • Expand access to medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) in correctional settings.  
  • Emphasize the provision of services using a whole-person approach, taking into account an individual’s physical and mental health and their social supports. 

At their six month follow up, 78% of people who received treatment through SOR reported they did not use illicit drugs. 

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