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October 26, 2017

Aguilar Announces Over $500,000 to Combat Opioid Addiction in Inland Empire

Today, Rep. Pete Aguilar announced that Inland Empire health agencies have received a total of $517,554 through the Access Increases in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (AIMS) grant program. The San Bernardino County Department of Public Health and Inland Behavioral Health Services each received an AIMS grant of $175,500, and the SAC Health System (SACHS) received an award of $166,554. The funding was made available through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and will be used to fund treatment and prevention resources to combat opioid addiction. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), opioids were responsible for more than half a million overdose deaths in America between 2000 and 2015.

“The opioid crisis in our country has impacted millions of families, including many here in the Inland Empire,” said Aguilar. He continued, “I was relieved to see this funding come to our region, and I’m hopeful that it will result in prevention and treatment efforts that will help families overcome the devastation of addiction.”  

Dr. Christine Bierdrager-Salley of Inland Behavioral Health Services (IBHS) commented, “IBHS is pleased to be an awardee of the AIMS grant. This will enable IBHS to expand and enhance its existing behavioral health integration program and IT infrastructure, with a particular emphasis on the screening, prevention, awareness, and support with treatment options for opioid abuse in both our patient population and the local communities of San Bernardino and Banning.”

Health Officer for the County of San Bernardino, Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare, said, “San Bernardino County Department of Public Health is pleased to be a recipient of the AIMS grant by HRSA. This grant will supplement funding under the Health Center Program to expand mental health services and substance abuse services focusing on the integration of treatment, prevention, and awareness of opioid abuse into primary care at DPH’s federally qualified Health Center located in the High Desert and Valley Regions.”

Nancy Young, President and CEO of the SAC Health System, expressed the dire need for this funding in the Inland Empire. “The opioid epidemic that is devastating our community – and our entire nation is heartbreaking. We are so pleased to have been awarded this special, specific funding to provide the highest quality care to assist those struggling with this addiction,” she said.

Rep. Aguilar has been an advocate for legislation to combat the opioid crisis, and in 2016, he supported a package of bipartisan bills to help expand research into the epidemic. Earlier this year, Rep. Aguilar vocally opposed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill would have severely limited access to addiction treatment services for many Americans by making drastic cuts to Medicaid and dropping the requirement that private health insurance plans cover addiction treatment, which is currently required by the Affordable Care Act.