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New Hampshire crafts spending plan for opioid response grant

August 15, 2018

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire is seeking federal approval to create a regional hub system to help people struggling with addiction move along a pathway from treatment and recovery to self-sufficiency.

The state is eligible for $45.8 million in federal grants over two years to combat the opioid crisis. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu and health officials outlined the state’s proposed spending plan Wednesday, saying they envision a new system of care.

“This is a one-time opportunity to really get it right, and really set the state up with an infrastructure, to be results-driven, to be data-focused and in many ways enhance the providers that are doing some great work out there, and really ensure that all 1.3 million people in this state have true access to care,” he said.

New Hampshire had 395 opioid-related deaths in 2017, and has the third highest overdose rate in the country. The proposed spending plan estimates overdose fatalities will decrease by 10 to 15 percent by August 2020 if the plan is enacted.

The proposal calls for nine hubs set up around the state, providing comprehensive assessments of what individuals and families need for both short-term and long-term stability, from medication-assisted treatment to wraparound services such as housing or job training. The state also would collect data to determine the effectiveness of those programs, officials said. And the plan includes investments in higher education to produce more nurses, substance abuse counselors and other health care workers.

Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers said he expects the plan to be approved by the end of September. The first regional hubs could open by Jan. 1, Sununu said.

Michele Merritt, president of the advocacy group New Futures, said she was glad the proposal includes support for recovery housing, mobile crisis units and programs targeted toward specific populations, including pregnant women and prison inmates. Under the plan, inmates would be able to receive medication-assisted treatment. Merritt said the corrections population is one that’s often forgotten in the recovery conversation.

Members of New Hampshire’s Democratic congressional delegation successfully fought for a change in the federal funding formula that previously put states like New Hampshire at a disadvantage. They, too, praised the plan.

“New Hampshire desperately needs to expand access to treatment as far too many Granite Staters are suffering with substance use disorders with limited means to get the care they need,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. “This available funding is a significant down payment on improving treatment access in our state and was the product of bipartisan, good-faith negotiations in Congress.”

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