ICYMI: Sununu announced key cuts to opioid crisis coordinator positions while praising Trump
Concord, N.H. - Over the weekend, the Union Leader reported that the funding for Continuum of Care (COC) facilitator positions has run out and that agencies will only receive 50 percent of the funding they expected when the new fiscal year starts on July 1. COC facilitators are considered "boots on the ground" in the fight against the opioid crisis and are described as "extremely valuable" and "a vital part of New Hampshire's public health system." Sarah Freeman, executive director of New Hampshire Providers Association, criticized the state for giving next to no advance notice of the budget cuts, leaving agencies scrambling to fund these critical COC facilitators. NHDP Chairman Ray Buckley issued the following statement: "Governor Sununu repeatedly praises the Trump administration's efforts, despite their failure to push for a single penny in additional funding to combat this crisis. It's time Governor Sununu stop making excuses for Trump's inaction and instead, take much needed action himself. He could support a Democratic proposal to fully fund the Alcohol Fund at 5% and another to allocate $10 million from the Rainy Day fund to tackle this crisis through the RESCUE Act. Sununu needs to learn that his actions would speak louder than any empty words." Union Leader: Local agencies helping addicts are told funding has been slashed By Shawne K. Wickham Community agencies that serve those struggling with drug addiction were told by the state last week that money for a key program has run out. That left providers scrambling to keep their "Continuum of Care" (COC) facilitator positions funded until the new fiscal year starts on July 1. But even then, agencies will only receive 50 percent of what they were expecting to get for the year. Sarah Freeman, executive director of New Hampshire Providers Association, said 13 community organizations were notified last Tuesday in a phone call from officials at the state health department's Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services that "that money is gone." "So these folks are kind of in crisis mode right now," Freeman said. "I understand that the department has some budget shortfalls that it's trying to fix," she said. "But the lack of notice and communication is completely unacceptable." Continuum of care (COC) refers to a comprehensive approach to the addiction crisis, including prevention, early identification, treatment and recovery support. Devin Oot, executive director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Hampshire, said COC facilitators are "the boots on the ground" in communities in the battle against the drug epidemic. "They are also a vital part of New Hampshire's public health system," she said... Freeman said she understands that difficult decisions need to be made when funding is cut, but she criticized the state for a lack of transparency and notice... "Contractees deserve to know what's coming down the line so they have the opportunity to plan," she said. "Two days before the money runs out is not enough time to plan." Freeman said each agency now has to scramble to figure out whether to cut other programs to keep the COC facilitator position funded... And that, for a state with the nation's third-highest fatal overdose rate, "makes no sense," he said.