Leahy Announces $12 Million In Federal COVID Relief To Bolster VT’s Substance Use Treatment And Prevention Response -- News Backgrounder ALSO BELOW --
MONTPELIER, Vt. (THURSDAY, May 6, 2021) – At a State House press conference Thursday, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that Vermont will receive $12 million in COVID relief funds that will help communities strengthen their responses to substance use disorders and address new challenges brought on by the pandemic. Leahy was joined by Governor Phil Scott, Lt. Gov. Molly Gray, and Vermont’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Mark Levine, for the announcement.
“This funding could not come at a more critical time. The isolation and financial hardships brought on by COVID are challenging enough for anyone, but think for a moment about what this has meant for people in treatment and recovery for Substance Use Disorder, particularly those living in our most rural communities,” Leahy said.
The funding includes a two-year, $6 million flexible block grant to the Vermont Health Department under the COVID Supplemental Appropriations bill passed last December, and a similar grant that will be coming from the American Rescue Plan Act that passed in March. The money will be administered through Vermont’s Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs to support prevention, treatment and recovery programs in communities around the state.
“Even throughout the last year, Vermont never lost sight of the issues facing Vermonters with Substance Use Disorder,” said Governor Scott. “The pandemic presented particular barriers for those individuals, challenging us to continue to offer services and supports while they were isolated from their friends, families and communities. This block grant money will allow Vermont to continue our work and to expand our efforts in education, outreach, direct prevention, treatment, and in recovery services.”
Leahy was also joined by Eva Zaret, coordinator of the Central Vermont Prevention Coalition, and Montpelier Police Chief Brian Peete, who detailed how the coalition’s earlier work in developing a community-wide response to substance use disorders helped address the unique challenges brought on by COVID. Started in 2015, the Coalition received a three-year, $1 million federal Rural Communities Opioid Response grant last year from the program Leahy established in 2018 to improve access to rural treatment and services for those with substance use disorders.
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Contact: David Carle (Leahy): firstname.lastname@example.org ph: 301-872-0665
At-A-Glance News Backgrounder
Senator Leahy’s Ongoing Support
For Vermont’s Opioid Response Programs
Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has long been a leader in making historic investments in the nation’s fight against the opioid epidemic. Since he first held a Senate Judiciary Committee field hearing in Vermont in 2008 to address the emerging heroin threat, Leahy recognized that a law enforcement response alone was not the answer and that heroin, along with the overprescribing of opioids, were not just urban problems.
“Prevention, education, treatment and recovery must go hand-in-hand with the important efforts of law enforcement,” Leahy has repeatedly said. For more than a decade, that approach has guided Leahy in his commitment to increase federal funding so that even the most rural Vermont communities could offer a comprehensive response, assuring that Vermonters in need of treatment and support for Substance Use Disorder would not need to drive hours to get it.
What follows is an overview of some of the funding Leahy has helped to secure for Vermont in recent years (in addition to the $12 million in COVID relief funds announced Thursday):
- State Opioid Response (SOR) Grants: Vermont has received more than $18 million (now $4 million/year) since the program was started in 2017. This funding, from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), provides flexible grants to states to support prevention, treatment and recovery efforts to combat opioid addiction; https://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/leahy-vermont-will-receive-4-million-grant-to-continue-expansion-of-states-opioid-response-strategies-
- CDC Overdose Tracking Grant: In September 2019, Leahy announced that Vermont would receive a $9.5 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to improve the tracking and prevention of opioid-related overdoses: https://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/leahy-announces-95-million-cdc-grant-to-improve-tracking-and-prevention-of-opioid-related-overdoses-in-vermont
- Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP): Since Leahy established this program in 2018, Vermont has received more than $10 million in RCORP funding. This includes a $6.6 million grant to the University of Vermont to stand up the Center on Rural Addiction, one of three such Centers of Excellence in the nation; and $1.2 million each to regional coalitions in Central Vermont, Windham and Windsor Counties to strengthen service delivery.
- Anti-Heroin Task Force Funding: Vermont State Police have been awarded two grants totaling $2.7 million from the Department of Justice (DOJ) program that Leahy created in 2014 to combat drug trafficking. https://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/leahy-announces-13-million-grant-to-help-the-vermont-state-police-combat-the-opioid-epidemic
- Mentoring Programs: Leahy helped secure DOJ funding that led to two $1.25 million awards to Vermont mentoring organizations to support youth affected by opioids: https://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/leahy-vermonts-dream-program-receives-125-million_to-mentor-youth-affected-by-opioid-and-drug-addiction
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