DHHS Intensifying Efforts To Prevent Opioid Abuse And Reduce Tobacco Use

03/11/2016 02:56 PM EST
*New Fund for Healthy Maine Request for Proposals establishes Statewide measurable goals and seeks the expertise to achieve them.*

**AUGUSTA** – The Maine Department of Health and Human Services recently announced that it is seeking to hire experts through the competitive procurement process to make significant progress in preventing heroin and opioid use and to reduce Maine’s smoking rates to the lowest in the nation.

Through the Maine Centers for Disease Control and the Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, the DHHS has developed Prevention Services for Maine’s Public Health Districts, which will be released later today. The work outlined in this Request for Proposals (RFP) has been broken into four categories: opioid and other substance use and exposure prevention; tobacco use and exposure; youth engagement and empowerment; and mass-reach health communications. Bidders may submit proposals for any or all areas of work.

“While we recognize the need to address these critical areas of prevention, we know from national research that we need to approach the work differently in order to adapt to the ever-changing public health landscape,” said Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew. “We must move Maine’s public health system to one that leads the development of strategies that focus on prevention and wellness, builds diverse partnerships, and effectively integrates with clinical health. Public health must be more flexible and able to address emerging needs by taking swift and appropriate action.”

This new request for proposals aggressively targets Maine’s most pressing public health concerns:

– Last year, 272 Mainers died due to a drug-related overdose – Eight out of every 100 babies are born drug affected in Maine – Approximately 2,400 tobacco-related deaths occur in our state annually – An estimated 1,300 youth begin smoking each year

“We must do all that we can to stem the rising tide of opioid use and abuse. Heroin has taken far too many lives in Maine,” said Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Chief Officer Kenneth Albert. “At the same time, we cannot lose sight of the effect tobacco use has on the progression of chronic disease,” said Albert. “We simply must do a better job of further reducing and preventing the use of tobacco and exposure to secondhand smoke.”

The costs of tobacco are enormous, with more than $811 million in health-care related costs and $534 million in smoking-caused productivity losses. Despite the costs, tobacco continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disability in Maine and across the nation. It is estimated that substance abuse costs Maine more than $1.4 billion annually.

Unlike previous Fund for Healthy Maine RFPs, this new proposal establishes consistent, measurable statewide goals, includes the requirement to routinely use data to drive decision-making, and requires maximized returns of investment across all areas of work. Linking the work to the State Health Plan at the District level, the use of strategies that have been proven effective and increased collaboration between public health and healthcare are also requirements of the proposal. With vendors who are experts in their respective fields, the Department will be able to evaluate progress and spending reports, and better articulate the value of the work as it pertains to consistent statewide goals.

Another key aspect of this effort is the strengthening and clarifying of the Public Health system and its structure. The Department is investing $1.45 million annually to support the nine District Coordinating Councils that comprise the statewide public health infrastructure.

“It has been improperly stated by legislators, advocates and the current Healthy Maine Partnerships that the HMPs are the public health infrastructure,” said Albert. “The District level infrastructure was very clearly established in 2007 by statewide partners and stakeholders, and the leadership responsibility falls squarely upon the District Coordinating Councils. That’s why we are investing in staffing support to assist the DCCs and strengthen their roles as the leaders of public health and their respective districts.”

The Department is expecting bids to represent participation and input from all active and vibrant public health partners.

“Maine faces significant chronic disease and addiction-related public health challenges. We need to effectively address the use and abuse of addictive substances to avoid increased healthcare and societal costs associated with this behavior,” said Commissioner Mayhew. “By focusing on early prevention of substance use and abuse by our youth we can increase the likelihood of them leading safe, healthy and productive lives.”

Once released, the RFP can be found at: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/rfp/ or http://www.maine.gov/purchases/venbid/rfp.shtml

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