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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Readout of the President’s Meeting with the White House Rural Council

Today, the White House Rural Council convened to discuss a number of challenges facing rural America, including financial stress, mental health, and the opioid epidemic which has hit rural counties especially hard. The President dropped by the meeting to thank the Council for their work and to discuss how to better target federal resources to help these communities.

A photo from today’s meeting can be found HERE.

The President established the White House Rural Council by Executive Order in June 2011 to address challenges in rural America and to build on the Administration’s rural economic strategy. Chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the Council aims to streamline and improve the effectiveness of federal programs serving rural America, engage stakeholders on issues important to rural communities, and to coordinate private sector partnerships to further job creation and economic development opportunities in rural areas.

The President recently charged the Council to lead an interagency effort focused on addressing some of the challenges affecting rural America, including heightened financial stress, increased substance abuse and overdose, and increased suicide rates. The President thanked Secretary Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, and others across the federal government for their work in this effort and highlighted the Administration’s $1.1 billion budget proposal announced yesterday to help ensure that all Americans who want treatment can get the care they need. The President’s FY 2017 Budget takes a two-pronged approach to address this epidemic. First, it includes $1 billion in new mandatory funding over two years to expand access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use. This funding will boost efforts to help individuals with an opioid use disorder seek treatment, successfully complete treatment, and sustain recovery. This funding includes: 

  • $920 million to support cooperative agreements with States to expand access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders. States will receive funds based on the severity of the epidemic and on the strength of their strategy to respond to it.  States can use these funds to expand treatment capacity and make services more affordable. 
  • $50 million in National Health Service Corps funding to expand access to substance use treatment providers.  This funding will help support approximately 700 providers able to provide substance use disorder treatment services, including medication-assisted treatment, in areas across the country most in need of behavioral health providers.
  • $30 million to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment programs employing medication-assisted treatment under real-world conditions and help identify opportunities to improve treatment for patients with opioid use disorders.

Second, the President’s Budget includes approximately $500 million -- an increase of more than $90 million -- to continue and build on current efforts across the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS) to expand state-level prescription drug overdose prevention strategies, increase the availability of medication-assisted treatment programs, improve access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone, and support targeted enforcement activities. A portion of this funding is directed specifically to rural areas, where rates of overdose and opioid use are particularly high. To help further expand access to treatment, the Budget includes an HHS pilot project for nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder treatment, where allowed by state law.