Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Agriculture secretary begins new round of town-hall meetings on rural opioid abuse

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services map
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has kicked off a new round of town-hall meetings on rural opioid abuse, visiting Tolland, Conn. on Monday. Three more town-hall meetings are scheduled, tonight in Brighton, Colo., Monday in Grants Pass, Ore. and Sept. 29 in Fayettesville, N.C. Vilsack also announced that USDA will display information about addiction resources from the Centers for Disease Control in all of its local offices.

In March Vilsack announced town-hall meetings in New Hampshire, Missouri, Nevada, Mississippi and Appalachia to "bring together local and state government partners, the health community and other stakeholders to raise awareness of the issue and discuss possible solutions," according to USDA.

Vilsack said in a statement: "Over the past few months, I've seen firsthand the devastation that opioid addiction is causing in communities across the country. After hearing from mothers and fathers who've lost their children to opioid misuse, and listening to mayors and medical personnel appeal for greater treatment resources, it's clear that rural communities need our help. In order to better serve our communities, I've directed USDA's local teams to step up as leaders and expand our resources and programs to battle the opioid epidemic."

In July President Obama called on Congress to approve $1.1 billion in new funding to make opioid treatment available for every American. A White House press release includes county-level maps of every state's opioid and heroin overdose deaths from 2010-14 and how much funding each state would qualify for under the proposal. USDA also in June announced $1.4 million for five Appalachian projects to fight opioid use.

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