Community leaders, public health experts, and others across North Carolina are on the front lines of dealing with the state’s opioid epidemic.
For that reason, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is launching a community grant process to help local officials address opioids close to home. The $2 million in grants to be awarded will help nonprofit organizations prevent addiction and expand access to treatment and recovery.
“There is a need to balance the system with more prevention and other community-based services that can decrease the need for higher levels of care,” the Blue Cross NC request for proposals states. “Therefore, we seek to invest in underserved populations and communities and have a preference for interventions targeting community-based settings.”
Addressing opioids community by community helps ensure that resources from the federal government, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, corporations and nonprofits are put to use most effectively.
A solution in rural Western North Carolina might look different from one in Wilmington.
Those resources are becoming more plentiful in North Carolina. For example:
- An initial $15.5 million in federal funding through the 21st Century Cures Act, with the possibility of an additional $25 million through more federal grants
- North Carolina’s Opioids Action Plan, launched in 2017 by NCDHHS and including coordination at the community level
- A $10 million commitment from Blue Cross NC to addressing opioids as part of a statewide effort to boost community health initiatives; the funding includes $1 million to TROSA to create capacity in the Triad for assisting substance abusers, and $390,000 to the UNC School of Government for community-based solutions
THE NEED IS GREAT
Of course, resources are necessary because the problem is so staggering. North Carolina experienced a 55 percent increase in opioid-related deaths, including both prescription painkillers and illegal opioid substances, from 2013 to 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Blue Cross NC is asking interested organizations to submit proposals by Nov. 1. The nonprofits and public health entities chosen for grants will be ones that show how they’ll expand access and improve prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery support.
The community RFP is a part of Blue Cross NC’s broader strategy to address the opioid epidemic through prevention, intervention, and treatment.