USDA Announces Telemedicine Funding to Address Opioid Epidemic

Agriculture Secretary of the USDA, Tom Vilsack, announced five Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant awards to help provide treatment for the growing opioid epidemic in rural central Appalachia. This development is a result of President Obama’s task for the USDA to focus on rural opioid use in the country.

“Because addiction treatment is often out of reach for many in rural America, expanding access to telemedicine is an important step towards making sure rural communities have the tools they need to fight the opioid epidemic,” Vilsack said. “USDA is committed to providing the critical resources rural areas need to reduce the staggering increase in opioid overdose deaths that is driving up health care costs and devastating communities.”

This announcement is a part of a new round of DLT projects to be announced and includes nearly $1.4 million for additional projects in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. These projects, servicing states with high opioid use, will provide treatment for medical conditions, as well as mental health and drug addiction treatment.

USDA has awarded funding for a number of treatment centers including: The Baptists Health Foundation Corbin, Inc., Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation, Carey Counseling Center, and Carillon Medical Center. These centers are in StrikeForce and Promise Zone areas, which are a part of the Obama Administration and USDA’s efforts to target investments in areas of persistent economic hardship.

In addition to DLT investments, USDA Rural Development has funded rural hospitals and health care clinics from its Community Facilities, and Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Programs. These projects provide communities with much-needed services to help address health care, including overdose and opioid addiction.

To read more about the USDA’s impact on opioid use in rural areas, click here. 

To learn more about StrikeForce areas click here.

To learn more about Promise Zone in the US, click here. 

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