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DHHS: N.H. lands extra opioid funding

State set to receive $45.8 million over next 2 years to combat crisis

By ETHAN DeWITT

Monitor staff

New Hampshire will receive twice the amount of federal funding to fight the opioid crisis as had been planned for, the state Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday – $45.8 million over two years instead of $22.9 million.

The misunderstanding, created by unclear instructions from the federal agency distributing the funds, allows New Hampshire to apply for more services to fight the epidemic, according to a department news release.

“The additional $22.9 million for the next fiscal year will allow the State to fund many of the needs identified by providers, families and other stakeholders to an even greater extent than planned,” the release stated.

New Hampshire is one of 10 states identified as hardest hit by the opioid epidemic set to receive a special carveout of the $6 billion “State Opioid Response” agreement struck in Congress earlier this year. But in its initial communications to recipient states, the federal agency responsible for the funds failed to make clear that the award was meant for each year, not the two year period.

That agency, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, made clear this week that New Hampshire is cleared to receive $22.9 million for this federal fiscal year and a matching amount for the next – doubling what the department had thought it could apply for.

“The award letter was just – it was confusingly written,” said DHHS spokesman Jake Leon. “So then they clarified it. They acknowledged that it was hard to understand.”

Under SAMHSA guidelines, the federal money is intended for treatment and prevention efforts, with a focus on medication assistance treatment solutions like Suboxone.

New Hampshire’s application for how it intends to spend the money is due to SAMHSA by Aug. 13. In recent weeks, the state’s DHHS had opened a public comment period for suggestions, including a public hearing July 23 and a write-in period that ended Friday at 5 p.m.

Despite the additional funding, that comment period will stay closed, Leon said.

“We’re hopeful at this point that the public comment period encompassed everyone’s good ideas,” he said. “The opportunity now is we can incorporate more of those into our application.”

After the federal agency receives the application, the first half of the funds are set to be awarded Sept. 30, 2018.

(Ethan DeWitt can be reached at edewitt@cmonit or.com , at (603) 369-3307, or on Twitter at @edewittNH.)

A pharmacy tech poses for a picture with hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets, the generic version of Vicodin. New Hampshire will receive twice the amount of federal funding to fight the opioid crisis as had been planned for, the state Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday.

AP file

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