NC governor budgets $30 million to go toward mental health, substance use issues

A news conference on budgetary priorities regarding health care was held at the Governor's Mansion Monday afternoon, April 11, 2016.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – During a wide-ranging news conference Monday on North Carolina’s health care budget, Gov. Pat McCrory outlined several priorities in his budget proposal with the most funding going toward mental health and substance use issues.

As part of a $30 million proposal on those issues, Gov. McCrory asked for an increase in funding for 2,000 doses of Naloxone, an anti-overdose drug aimed at those addicted to opioids or heroin.

“With all due respect to all the other issues we’re dealing with in the state of North Carolina, this is the most important,” Gov. McCrory said. “People are living and dying based upon whether they have access to this drug.”

A medical standing order, issued by the state health director, allows Naloxone to be dispensed to anyone who requests it. It is estimated that more than 2,500 lives have been saved in North Carolina because of Naloxone.

“I’ve got people behind me who are saving people almost every day at this point in time,” Gov. McCrory said. “Somewhere across the state, this drug is saving people’s lives.”

The budget proposal also addresses the heroin and prescription drug use epidemic by increasing funding for medication-assisted treatment and other preventive measures.

In addition, funds would be directed to emergency housing for adults diagnosed with a primary substance use disorder or serious mental illness who are transitioning out of emergency departments, correctional facilities or institutions.

“And this is just the beginning because we’re going to have to make more investments in substance abuse and mental health because it’s an issue that’s being hidden in our emergency rooms, and in our county jails and in our state prisons,” Gov. McCrory said.

Other areas addressed include expanding Medicaid and state services for older adults and those with developmental disabilities, and strengthening the state’s child protection system.

The governor’s budget proposal comes just two weeks before the General Assembly returns. He said he’s be outlining how he wants to spend money in other areas in the coming days.

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