Morgan Griffith: Resources to fight opioid crisis

opioid crisis

Photo Credit: Robert Wilson

On Sept. 4, the Trump Administration announced the release of $1.8 billion in funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help communities around the country fight the opioid crisis.

$20.4 million of that money will go to Virginia in support of efforts here in the Commonwealth.

The federal funds come from two sources. The first, State Opioid Response grants, were originally created, authorized, and reauthorized by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on which I serve. They are awarded by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration and go to state governments for their prevention, treatment, and recovery services.

Overdose Data to Action grants, awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), help collect information on overdoses, supporting the development of better policies.

Virginia’s portion of these funds will be split between the state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and the Department of Health. By supporting efforts to combat addiction and overdoses at the state level, HHS is providing flexibility for states and communities to find the solutions that match their circumstances.

These funds are the latest resources devoted by Congress and the Trump Administration toward turning the tide in this deadly epidemic. Encouraging signs of progress can be found. CDC Director Robert Redfield recently observed that the provisional overdose death count in 2018 declined by 5%, the first decline in two decades.

Virginia has been deeply affected by the opioid crisis, with enormous quantities of pain pills pouring into some of our cities, towns, and communities. If these provisional numbers are confirmed, the decrease in overdose deaths is certainly welcome news.

Nevertheless, now is no time to become complacent, as the crisis shifts away from prescriptions pills and heroin that characterized it toward synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. From my place on the Energy and Commerce Committee, I will continue to support policies that will make a difference in the fight and conduct oversight to make sure they are carried out properly.

USDA Rural Development Grant Workshops

Encouraging economic development and providing essential government services in rural areas come with challenges. The many rural areas of Virginia’s Ninth Congressional District are no exception.

In order to draw more jobs and investment and to more fully provide those services, it is important that communities know what resources they have at their disposal and how to best access them.

One of those resources is U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development. The mission of this agency is to serve rural Americans through loans, grants, and loan guarantees, as well as technical assistance.

Many communities in the Ninth District have already benefited from Rural Development programs. For example, I recently announced that it had approved a grant of $30,000 to the Dickenson County Public Service Authority to study the replacement of certain water lines. This grant indicates the type of quality-of-life improvements Rural Development supports.

My office is hosting two workshops during October in partnership with Rural Development to help communities navigate the process of applying for grants.

The first will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 1pm at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon. It will focus on Rural Development’s Broadband ReConnect Program, which offers loans and grants to help fund broadband service in rural areas. The program lends a hand to rural Americans as they pursue the ever-expanding number of economic and cultural opportunities found online.

The second will take place on Friday, Oct. 11 in Bassett and will address the broader array of opportunities funded by Rural Development. Details on location will be announced closer to the date.

I am glad to be hosting these workshops to better inform you about the resources available to our communities. Working with our partners in the Federal Government such as Rural Development, we can bring new opportunities to rural Virginia.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405, my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671, or my Washington office at 202-225-3861. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.

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