U.S. Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and John Hoeven (R-ND), announced bipartisan legislation aimed at combating substance use disorders in rural communities. The bill would direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grants Program to give priority to applicants in rural communities that would use the grants for substance abuse education, treatment, and prevention efforts.
Donnelly said, “This bipartisan legislation would help educate our families and youth in rural communities on the devastating harm of substance abuse, while expanding prevention and treatment opportunities. I’m proud to work with fellow Senate Agriculture Committee member, Senator Hoeven, on this common sense effort that would allow USDA to prioritize rural communities when considering applicants for its rural health and safety education grants program. We know that it will take all of us working together to confront this public health crisis, and we have more work to do stem this epidemic in rural communities.”
Hoeven said, “The opioid abuse epidemic has challenged families and communities across the nation, including in rural areas. Our bipartisan legislation will prioritize substance abuse education, treatment and prevention programs when awarding rural health education grants, providing smaller communities with additional resources to prevent and treat substance use disorders.”
Today’s bipartisan legislation is Donnelly’s third bipartisan bill aimed at strengthening the tools USDA has to help rural communities combat opioid abuse. Earlier this year, Donnelly, along with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) introduced the Community Facilities Direct Loans and Grants, which would expand access to treatment through new facilities. Donnelly and Senator Luther Strange (R-AL), also introduced the bipartisan Distance Learning and Telemedicine legislation, which would increase the availability of telemedicine to prevent and treat substance use disorders, including the opioid epidemic.
Over the past several years, Donnelly has actively fought for both new efforts to help with prevention, treatment, and recovery and the funding necessary to support those programs. Several of Donnelly’s provisions were signed into law, and he successfully advocated and continues to advocate for funding that would expand prevention and treatment programs. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and the 21st Century Cures Act, both of which Donnelly helped get passed and signed into law, have programs and funding to combat the opioid abuse and heroin use epidemics. Through the Cures Act, Donnelly helped Indiana secure nearly $11 million in federal grant funding this year that will support prevention, treatment, and recovery services across the state.