September 22, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today announced that Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services will receive a grant of $929,502 to support Maine people with mental health or substance use disorders, as the state suffers a spike in overdose fatalities due to stresses tied to the ongoing COVID pandemic. The funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will support development of a new Medicaid program providing community-based, mobile crisis interventions for Medicaid beneficiaries. The funds were allocated through the American Rescue Plan (ARP), which passed in March 50-49 with the Senator’s crucial vote.
“For many, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated longstanding struggles with mental health challenges and substance use disorders,” said Senator King. “Last year, our state saw a record 504 deaths from drug overdoses – and through the first half of 2021, this troubling pace isn’t slowing down. As the pandemic’s stresses and isolation drive an uptick in ‘diseases of despair,’ it is vital that we provide resources that can meet people where they are. This latest funding from the American Rescue Plan will provide crucial support to Maine people in need and help save lives.”
“As Senator King knows well, Maine’s COVID-19 response is focused not only on limiting the spread of the virus but also on addressing the pandemic’s effects on Maine peoples' mental health,” said Governor Janet Mills. “This new funding will allow us to enhance and expand mobile crisis services across Maine, strengthen the behavioral health system overall, and save lives by better helping people when and where they need it most – earlier and in their own communities.”
Senator King has made combating the opioid crisis one of his highest priorities in Washington, both before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and since its initial spread across the country. Since the pandemic has separated Americans from their loved ones and made it more difficult to access resources, Senator King has worked to connect with Maine people virtually and raise awareness about resources available to for support. Earlier this year, he urged President Biden to request robust funding and increase the federal investment in our nation’s response to the ongoing opioid and substance use disorder (SUD) epidemic. In September 2020, he introduced a bipartisan resolution to officially recognize September as “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month'' and focused his September podcast on recovery from SUDs amid the pandemic.
This grant is the latest funding from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to support Maine’s efforts to fight COVID-19. Earlier this week, Senator King announced nearly $1 million in ARP funds to improve testing in Maine’s at risk communities – coming on the heels of $41 million in funding for local Maine health centers; funds to make health insurance more affordable; along with support for vaccination, testing, tracing, and other key medical needs required to control the virus.
Since its March passage, the American Rescue Plan has also delivered Maine:
Under Governor Mills, Maine has taken an aggressive approach to tackling the opioid epidemic, including:
· significantly increasing reimbursement for residential substance use disorder treatment;
· launching OPTIONS, a program which placed liaisons around the state to connect people who have overdosed to recovery services and treatment, promote drug prevention and harm reduction strategies, and distribute naloxone, the lifesaving overdose medication;
· increasing the number of Recovery Community Centers from 9 to 15 and the number of Recovery Residences from 101 to 120; and recruiting and training over 530 new recovery coaches.