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California announces $20 million in funding for opioid addiction treatment

OAKLAND – The California Department of Health Care Services announced. $20 million in funding will be awarded to two-thirds, 212, of the hospitals in California to treat people with opioid and other substance use disorders.

The Behavioral Health Pilot Project is based on the California Bridge program that combines medication for addiction treatment in hospital emergency departments with support from a substance use counselor to help people get into ongoing substance use treatment.  

“People seeking help with their drug use should be able to turn to their local hospital and expect to be treated like any other patient with a life-threatening illness,” Serena Clayton, program director of California Bridge, said. 

The state’s funding comes at a critical time as overdose deaths are drastically rising, traditional forms of drug treatment are complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and many states are cutting back on drug treatment services. By contrast, with this new funding, California will be able to make treatment available to people on a massive scale.  

The state’s move toward setting a new standard of care for substance use is the culmination of the pioneering work of California Bridge, a program of the Public Health Institute. It puts California at the forefront of a growing movement to rethink how drug use is treated across health systems and in society at large. 

“This funding will revolutionize how substance use is addressed in hospitals by shifting the attitudes of providers, many of whom are reluctant to treat people who use drugs. We are getting closer to the day when every Emergency Department treats substance use disorder because it’s the most equitable way to improve access to care,” Dr. Aimee Moulin, professor of emergency medicine at University of California Davis Medical Center, said.

DHCS will work with the California Bridge program to support all 212 Behavioral Health Pilot Program grantees with training, tools, resources, educational materials and assistance with data collection.

“We’re pleased that DHCS has seen how powerful the CA Bridge program can be in equipping busy emergency departments to provide this life saving treatment,” Moulin said. “This is an opportunity to demonstrate to the entire nation how opening up access to treatment can transform the lives of people suffering from addiction.”

The Budget Act of 2019 appropriated $20 million in general funds to establish the Behavioral Health Pilot Program but funding was delayed due to COVID-19 to expand the California Bridge model. As it became clear that overdose deaths were increasing at an alarming rate, the Budget Act of 2020 re-appropriated funding for the project. Awarded hospitals will receive funding in September 2020, and patients across the state should begin receiving treatment soon after.

The California Bridge Program, a program of the Public Health Institute, is working to ensure that people with substance use disorder receive 24/7 high-quality care in every California health system by 2025. The program seeks to fully integrate addiction treatment into standard medical practice, breaking down barriers to access treatment, effectively saving lives. More information can be found at

Submitted by California Bridge Program.


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