Delivering on President Biden’s Unity Agenda priority to address the overdose epidemic and strengthen public health and public safety, five new states join strong bipartisan effort to provide high-quality, affordable health care for people transitioning from incarceration

Washington, D.C. – Today, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Dr. Rahul Gupta released the following statement on historic new action from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) allowing five new states – Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon, Utah, and Vermont – to use federal Medicaid funds to address substance use disorder and facilitate improved continuity of care for incarcerated individuals. This effort, as part of President Biden’s Unity Agenda for the Nation, has drawn strong bipartisan support both in Congress and in states across the country. The new red and blue states announced today join California, Massachusetts, Montana, and Washington in taking advantage of this opportunity to increase access to treatment for individuals with substance use disorder who are reentering their communities after incarceration.

“Expanding access to life-saving treatment and recovery supports for incarcerated people is a critical part of our bipartisan efforts to beat the overdose epidemic and save lives,” said Dr. Gupta. “President Biden made addressing the overdose epidemic part of his Unity Agenda for the Nation because it is an issue that affects every community across the country and requires members of both parties to deliver progress for the American people. Under this important action today, the Biden-Harris Administration is providing a groundbreaking opportunity for these states to increase access to health care, including care for substance use disorder, in jails and prisons, and provide historically underserved and marginalized individuals with the tools and resources they need to succeed upon reentry. I am grateful to these states – red and blue, from coast to coast – for joining our whole-of-society response to strengthen public health, enhance public safety, and save lives.”

President Biden has made addressing the nation’s overdose crisis a key pillar of his Unity Agenda for the Nation and has called on Republicans and Democrats to work together to expand access to life-saving treatment for addiction. Under his leadership, the Biden-Harris Administration has made historic investments, taken historic action, and removed decades-long barriers to substance use disorder treatment and overdose reversal medication over the past three years to help address the overdose epidemic and save lives. That includes signing the bipartisan law that expanded the number of health care providers who can prescribe life-saving treatment for opioid use disorder by more than 1.8 million. President Biden is also investing $83 billion in treatment, which is 42% more than was made available the under the previous Administration.

Expanding access to treatment in correctional settings is an essential part of addressing the nation’s overdose epidemic and strengthening public health and public safety. Of the approximately 2 million individuals in federal, state, local, Tribal or territorial correctional facilities across the country, up to 65 percent are battling a substance use disorder, and only a small portion receive the treatment they need. It is estimated that people reentering society were at 27 times greater risk of drug-related mortality during the first two weeks after release. Of the nearly 110,000 overdose deaths in 2021, up to 27,000 involved people recently released from jail or prison.

The Administration’s historic efforts to increase access to treatment for people who are incarcerated include:

  • Allowing states to use Medicaid funds to provide health care services—including treatment for people with substance use disorder—to individuals in carceral settings;
  • Providing professionals at correctional settings with a performance management framework to monitor medication treatment for opioid use disorder in correctional settings;
  • Permitting State Opioid Response funds to be used for addiction treatment and services for people who are incarcerated;
  • Calling for $4.1 billion to expand MOUD for treating individuals in BOP’s custody with an opioid use disorder as part of the President’s FY25 budget request;
  • Updating federal regulations for opioid treatment programs for the first time in more than two decades, including rule clarification allowing jails and prisons to treat patients for opioid use disorder (OUD) with methadone if they have another co-occurring disorder requiring treatment; and
  • Calling for every jail and prison across the nation can provide treatment for substance use disorder.

Read the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic actions to expand access to treatment and save lives HERE.

Read Dr. Gupta and Senior Advisor to the President Tom Perez’s joint op-ed on expanding access to treatment for substance use disorder in correctional settings HERE.


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