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Online ISSN: 1099-176X    Print ISSN: 1091-4358
The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics
Volume 6, Issue 4, 2003. Pages: 173-179

Published Online: 21 Dec 2003

Copyright © 2003 ICMPE.


 

Impact of Federal Substance Abuse Block Grants on State Substance Abuse Spending: Literature and Data Review

Alexander Cowell,1* Dennis McCarty,2 Albert Woodward3

1Ph.D., Economist, Center for Interdisciplinary Substance Abuse Research, RTI International, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA
2Ph.D., Professor, Department of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, CB669, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA
3Ph.D., M.B.A., Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, MD, USA

* Correspondence to: Albert Woodward, Ph.D., M.B.A., Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Room 16-105, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857, USA
Tel.: +1-301-443 6255
Fax: +1-301-443 9847
E-mail: awoodwar@samhsa.gov

Source of Funding: Albert Woodward is an official of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Alex Cowell and Dennis McCarty, had an office contract with DHHS. This paper does not represent policy or the position of the Office of Applied Studies, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and no official endorsement by any of these organizations is intended or should be inferred.

Abstract

The federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (SAPTBG) was established by the U.S. Congress to assist the states in funding substance abuse treatment services. Although the SAPTBG represents about 40 percent of public funding for treatment, how this federal assistance affects state treatment spending is not well understood. Based on a review of the literature and data, this paper suggests future avenues of research on the impact of the SAPTBG. The study reviews the relevant public finance economics literature and the data used in published work on the SAPTBG. The current literature examines only the effect of the block grant on expenditures by state substance abuse agencies. Ideas for additional research are presented. The increasing interest of the U.S. Congress in evaluating the effectiveness of the many federal block grant programs requires that further analysis of the impact of the SAPTBG be undertaken.

 

Background: The federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (SAPTBG) was established by the U.S. Congress to assist the states in funding substance abuse treatment services. Although the SAPTBG represents about 40 percent of public funding for treatment, how this federal assistance affects state treatment spending is not well understood. Published research has examined this topic, drawing on an approach from public finance economics.
Aims of the Study: Based on a review of the literature and data, this paper suggests future avenues of research on the impact of the SAPTBG.
Methods: The study reviews the relevant public finance economics literature and the data used in published work on the SAPTBG.
Discussion: Current literature examines only the effect of the block grant on expenditures by state substance abuse agencies. Additional analysis is needed to examine the impact of the SAPTBG on all sources of state funding and expenditures for substance abuse treatment. Ideas for additional research are presented at the end of this paper.
Implications for Health Policies: The increasing interest of the U.S. Congress in evaluating the effectiveness of the many federal block grant programs requires that further analysis of the impact of the SAPTBG be undertaken. The analysis and approach in the literature is also instructive for other countries where a central government allocates health care resources to local authorities using a grant.


Received 17 July, 2003; accepted 2 December 2003

Copyright 2003 ICMPE