Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack to Visit Missouri, Host Opioid Addiction Town Hall Featuring Senator McCaskill

ST. LOUIS, Mo., July 20, 2016 – This week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, chair of the White House Rural Council and leader of the Obama Administration’s national initiative on rural opioid addiction, will visit Missouri to discuss the urgent need for resources to address the epidemic. Vilsack is calling on Congress to quickly pass funds to provide resources to help turn the tide of the epidemic. This week, Congress passed legislation aimed at the crisis; however it did not provide any funding. The President’s budget proposes $1.1 billion in new funding to support states in expanding treatment options. Missouri would be eligible for up to $17 million dollars over two years to expand access to treatment for opioid use disorders.

On Friday, July 22, Vilsack will host a White House Rural Council Town Hall in Columbia where he will be joined by Senator Claire McCaskill and local leaders fighting the epidemic. The town hall is open to the media and invited guests. While in Missouri, Vilsack will also host a roundtable discussion in St. Louis on Thursday, July 21 with McCaskill to learn about the efforts of the St. Louis County Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and discuss the need for the Missouri legislature to pass a state PDMP. Missouri is the only state in the country without a monitoring program.

Addressing the opioid epidemic is a priority for the Administration and in January, President Obama appointed Vilsack to lead an interagency initiative focused on this specific challenge in rural America. This is the second in a series of town halls that Vilsack announced earlier this year to bring together local and state government partners, the health community, law enforcement, and other stakeholders to raise awareness of opioid addiction and discuss possible solutions. Prescription drug misuse and heroin have taken a heartbreaking toll on too many American families, while straining public resources. New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows opioids were involved in 28,648 deaths in 2014, which means more Americans are dying from drug overdoses than in motor vehicle accidents each year.

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