The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that is charged with the mission of reducing the impact of substance abuse and mental illness in America through improved quality and availability of prevention, treatment, and rehabilitative services. SAMHSA’s current major initiatives include substance abuse prevention, healthcare and health systems integration, trauma and justice, recovery support, health information technology, and workforce development. SAMHSA believes it is important to engage the public and healthcare professionals in the discussion of mental health and is focusing stronger efforts on the opioid epidemic and suicide prevention in reaction to current public health need.
On February 10, 2016, SAMHSA presented its congressional budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2017. The budget request increases SAMHSA funding by $590.2 million for a total request of $4.3 billion. The proposal increases funding in the programmatic areas of mental health, substance abuse treatment, and health surveillance and requests sustained funding for substance abuse prevention.
For mental health, SAMHSA proposes to fund the expansion of access to Medicare and Medicaid through Section 224 of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, to provide loans to health care providers through the National Health Service Corps, and to provide grants and training to the Indian Health Service. Additionally, SAMHSA proposes to provide grants to states for evidence-based early interventions, to fund the Children’s Mental Health Services program, and to fund community crisis systems that will aid in preventing and managing behavioral health crises.
In order to help prevent and treat the abuse of opioids, SAMHSA proposes funding state-level initiatives through continued cohort monitoring and treatment in Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) programs, expanding buprenorphine access by working to increase prescribing authority, and funding state-level grants for preventing prescription drug death and overdose.
For the prevention of suicide, the FY 2017 budget request increases funding for grants focused on individuals older than 25, particularly the elderly and middle aged, while sustaining current funding for suicide prevention among adolescents and young adults. SAMHSA also proposes grants that will provide funding to the states to implement the “Zero Suicide” model in behavioral healthcare systems and promote community engagement plans that identify at-risk individuals.
SAMHSA also prioritizes workforce development and training in its FY 2017 budget request. The proposal funds programs that improve peer-professional workforce training in substance abuse and increases funding for the Project Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education program (Project AWARE) by supporting new state awards and sustaining current grants.
While funding increases for the overall budget, SAMHSA’s budget request reduces funding compared to previous fiscal years for some programmatic areas. These programs include: youth violence, the primary and behavioral health care integration program, substance abuse treatment programs, criminal justice programs, and treatment programs for the homeless.