HHS Awards $137 Million in Grants To Help States, Territories Improve Programs

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The Health and Human Services Department Aug. 25 awarded $137 million to help states bolster their public health infrastructure and workforce.

The grants will be used by states, territories, and local organizations to support efforts such as tobacco-cessation programs; strengthen public health laboratory and immunization services; and prevent health care-associated infections, according to HHS.

“More than ever, it is important to help states fight disease and protect public health,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. “These awards are an important investment and will enable states and communities to help Americans quit smoking, get immunized and prevent disease and illness before they start.”

The grants will assist state and local public health programs that are supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Funding for the grants comes primarily from the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, with supplemental funding from SAMHSA.

Nearly every state, the District of Columbia, and several territories received grants.

The $137 million awarded includes up to $75 million to fund nine Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral and Treatment programs over five years for substance abuse prevention and treatment. It also includes a total of more than $42 million for many states to improve immunization efforts, such as through new information technologies and immunization information systems, also known as immunization registries.

Among the other programs supported by the grants are those that will:

• help expand the national network of tobacco cessation “quitlines,” which tobacco users can call for advice on quitting;

• hire and train scientists for public health careers; and

• prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia to reduce cases of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections.

A list of grantees is at http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2011pres/08/state_prevention_grants.html .