Pa. gets $26.5 million to extend medication-assisted treament for opioid abuse

    Thousands of used needles litter the ground at a heroin encampment in Kensington. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    Thousands of used needles litter the ground at a heroin encampment in Kensington. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    The federal government is handing out a total of $485 million to the states to fight opioid abuse.

    Because of its high overdose rate and need for more treatment options, Pennsylvania will receive the fourth largest grant.

    “From our northern, rural areas, down to our urban areas, [there] hasn’t been a community that hasn’t been impacted by this epidemic,” said Sarah Galbally, the state secretary of Policy and Planning.

    Some estimates project that by the time this year is over, 5,000 Pennsylvanians will have died from overdosing on heroin or prescription drugs.

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    The $26.5 million grant is meant to increase medication-assisted treatment in Pennsylvania’s rural areas, especially for the uninsured or underinsured.

    Medication-assisted treatment combines behavioral therapy and medications to help people safely reduce or quit their opioid intake.

    The funding will help existing providers serve more people through the “hub and spoke” model.

    “The idea behind hub and spoke is that you create a hub that is centered around an academic professional who has close ties to the community — the community are the spokes that serve the hub,” said Meg Snead, the deputy secretary of Policy and Planning.

    Hubs would be large academic medical centers and the spokes would be small treatment providers and communities nearby.

    Pennsylvania will choose eight hubs across the state. Once the money arrives from Washington, it must be spent in four months.

    Delaware will receive $2 million, New Jersey will get close to $13 million.

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