On August 5, the Biden administration announced it would invest roughly $90 million to assist rural communities in combatting opioid use disorders (OUD) and other substance use disorders (SUD) and improve access to maternal and obstetrics care. The funds will be distributed by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in the form of community-based grants, many of which were provided direct to counties.
HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy awarded the nearly $90 million in funding through four key programs under the Rural Community Opioid Response Program (R-CORP):
- Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Implementation: $78 million was awarded to 78 organizations, including six counties, to reduce the morbidity and mortality of SUD/OUD in high-risk rural communities by strengthening and expanding prevention, treatment and recovery services.
- Rural Communities Opioid Response Program – Psychostimulant Support Programs: $7.5 million was awarded to 15 rural community-based organizations, to strengthen and expand services for individuals misusing psychostimulants.
- Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies Program: $2.9 million was awarded to three recipients (20 counties within the three award recipient service areas) to test models, which aim to provide better care coordination, increase use of telehealth and increase access to prenatal and related services, in order to address unmet maternal and obstetric needs.
- Rural Northern Border Region Planning Program: $760,000 was awarded to four community-based organizations to identify key rural health issues in the rural Northern Border Regional Commission services areas.
The funding announced recently contributes to a total of $384 million in community-based grants and technical assistance provided by the Rural Community Opioid Response Program over the past 3 years. The program specifically targets HRSA designated rural areas, where substance misuse and overdose have been a persistent challenge in rural communities, due to the lack adequate prevention, treatment and recovery resources. Given the opioid epidemic’s impact on rates of neonatal abstinence syndrome coupled with growing disparities in maternal morbidity and mortality in these areas, the program also seeks to improve maternal and obstetrics health as a part of its overarching goal of ending the opioid epidemic.
Counties, with the assistance of these and other federal investments, serve as frontline providers of opioid and other substance use disorder treatment and prevention services, planning, operating, and financing community-based programs. For more information and resources on the county role in the opioid epidemic, click here.
- NACo Policy Brief: Enhance Counties' Ability to Prevent and Treat Mental Illness and Substance Abuse Disorders
- NACo Report: Opioids in Appalachia: The Role of Counties in Reversing a Regional Epidemic
- NACo Resource Center: The Opioid Epidemic- Counties on the Frontline