WVU hosts Opioid Grant Workshop

MORGANTOWN — Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., brought federal substance abuse agency representatives to Morgantown on Wednesday to offer tips on applying for competitive federal substance abuse grants.

The workshop drew close to 150 people from healthcare agencies and county and city governments across the state. The federal reps work for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“Don’t be intimidated by this whole process, please,” McKinley told the attendees.

Some grants are big, he said – in the millions. Others may in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, or as small as $70,000. He urged them not to just focus on big projects, such as treatment centers, but on all the opportunities available to combat substance abuse, including educational programs.

“The money is out there,” he said.

A quick poll of the attendees showed that maybe a quarter had previously applied for substance abuse grants of any kind, and only a handful had applied for federal grants.

SAMHSA Division of Grant Review Director Christopher Craft offered some encouragement: “My hope is that we’ll be able to put your minds at ease a bit about how to go about applying.”

The opioid crisis is nationwide, he said, and West Virginia grant seekers will be competing with many others across the country. This workshop would give them the tools they need to make their applications competitive.

The three-hour session, held at the WVU law school, went deep into the weeds of filling out forms, including the right details and charts in the applications, preparing project budgets and submitting applications the proper way.

The workshop is the latest in McKinley’s ongoing efforts to combat the opioid crisis. He sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee which, earlier this month, passed 57 opioid-related bills, including two by McKinley: the Preventing Overdoses While in Emergency Rooms (POWER) Act, which deals with helping steer overdose patients to support and treatment after their ER admission; and the Alternatives to Opioids in the Emergency Department (ALTO) Act, which deals with offering alternative pain treatments.

His West Virginia colleagues have also been busy with opioid-abuse efforts and legislation.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., recently released a report by Council for Economic Advisers that showed that the opioid crisis cost West Virginia more than $8.72 billion in 2016. The lion’s share, opioid-related fatalities, cost $8.149 billion; other costs include healthcare spending, addiction treatment, criminal justice and lost productivity.

A bill passed recently by the Senate Health Committee, the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, includes eight Manchin provisions.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., has co-authored and co-sponsored a number of opioid bills reported here previously. Most recently, she co-authored the Collectively Achieving Recovery and Employment (CARE) Act, which would combine existing grant programs at the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services (which oversees SAMHSA) to create a six-year pilot program to combine job training and addiction recovery services.

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