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State Strategies to Support Access to Substance Use Disorder Treatment Services through the COVID-19 Pandemic

National Governors Association (NGA) – 2020

This brief explains that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many governors were looking for ways to strengthen substance use disorder (SUD) provider capacity as part of their comprehensive response to the opioid epidemic. It notes that the imperative is now greater than ever as providers and States face unprecedented fiscal challenges and there are increasing reports that the country is seeing an increase in need for SUD treatment as a result of the stress, social isolation, and job loss associated with the pandemic. Factors driving fiscal pressure on SUD providers are discussed and include new costs associated with personal protective equipment, testing, reconfiguring spaces, expanding operating hours, and hazard pay and backup staffing. Strategies for supporting SUD providers are then proposed and include: systematically gathering data on SUD providers; providing information on high-priority federal funding opportunities and supporting SUD providers in accessing federal funding; leveraging Medicaid as a tool to support providers; and reducing barriers to care for people with SUD during COVID-19. Recommended steps for implementing each of these strategies are described. 45 references.