The Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts (FORE) announced it is providing grants to six organizations nationwide to help them respond to increased risks faced by individuals with opioid use disorder and an alarming increase in overdoses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of FORE’s COVID-19 National Emergency Response effort, this funding is earmarked to (1) expand access to recovery programs safely during the pandemic, and (2) support policy research to learn from temporary changes in policy, such as relaxed telehealth regulations.
Maintaining connections is especially important for people in recovery from opioid use disorder. Recovery support services, which so often rely on face to face interactions, have had to rapidly transition to virtual means in order to maintain supports for individuals in treatment and recovery who may need these services more than ever due to isolation, as well as economic and environmental stresses related to the pandemic.
The funded organizations include: Ballad Health, RAND Corporation, Addiction Policy Forum, Illinois Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and University of North Carolina (UNC) Health Sciences at Mountain Area Health Education Center. This first wave of COVID-19 response funding is for a host of virtual interventions and creates opportunities to inform future programs to address the opioid crisis beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Learning from Temporary Medicaid Changes Under the Public Health Emergency
Support to Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, will expand their current FORE-funded project assessing the impact of innovative Medicaid policy changes in New Jersey on access to opioid use disorder treatment. This additional funding will help their efforts to evaluate the temporary regulatory and policy changes that have been enacted during the COVID-19 public health emergency, including expanding use of telemedicine and changes to medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) prescribing rules. Data analyses will also provide information on the risks to the population with opioid use disorder, including racial and ethnic disparities, during the pandemic.