NE Michigan to benefit early from new state aid for opioid crisis

LANSING — Northeast Michigan will be one of the first regions to benefit from a new state program focused on addiction recovery that seeks to curb the opioid epidemic in the state.

Lt. Gov. Calley on Thursday announced the start of the state’s first Opioid Health Home program. It’s available for people on Medicaid in the northern 21 counties of the Lower Peninsula, including Alpena, Presque Isle, Montmorency and Alcona counties.

The program coordinates health and social services that typically aren’t eligible for Medicaid reimbursement. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services approval to implement the program.

Earlier this month, Michigan reported opioid deaths jumped by about 9 percent last year. Other efforts to combat the epidemic include providing online resources for patients, health workers and communities; and an automated prescription system aimed at improving assessments of a patient’s substance abuse risk.

Sara Sircely, director of Northern Michigan Regional Entity, a Petoskey-based behavioral health network with which the state partnered for the Opioid Health Home program, said the Northeast Michigan will be one of the first areas to see an impact from the recovery program.

She said the Alcona Health Center, which provides services throughout the region, has already expressed interest in being a provider, so the area will immediately be impacted.

“It will be an easier way to access care, and that’s any care that people may need,” Sircely said. “It’s exciting.”

Sircely said the recovery program will help provide with employment and the people will be wrapped around the program when they are in it.

In 2016, four people died across Alpena, Montmorency and Alcona counties from overdose deaths, according to DHHS.

Julie Goldberg can be reached at or 989-358-5688.