Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded $299,456 in federal funding from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) for Virginia Tech to conduct research on community-based ways to combat the opioid epidemic and facilitate cooperation between law enforcement and public health agencies. The grant was awarded through the ONDCP’s Combating Opioid Overdose through Community-Level Intervention (COOCLI) grant program.

“Communities throughout the Commonwealth and across the country continue to feel the devastating effects of the opioid epidemic, which is why we’re so glad to see this federal funding go towards conducting potentially lifesaving research at Virginia Tech,” said the Senators. “We’re proud to know that with this grant, the Commonwealth will continue to play a vital role in making sure that our nation is better prepared to mitigate this crisis and fight opioid addiction.”

In 2018, the Virginia Department of Health estimated that 1,059 people died in Virginia as a result of a fentanyl, heroin, or prescription opioid overdose. Fatal drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, surpassing car accidents and gun violence.

Grants issued under the COOCLI program support efforts to: 1) undertake research activities that entail implementing and evaluating community-based efforts to fight the opioid overdose epidemic; and 2) support and promote the partnership of law enforcement and public health agencies, whose collaboration is critical to reducing overdose and other harms of opioid abuse.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have long advocated for increased federal funding to combat the opioid epidemic in Virginia. Last year, the Senators successfully passed a bipartisan bill to help communities across Virginia by improving opioid treatment and recovery efforts and providing new tools for law enforcement. Additionally, in 2016, Sens. Warner and Kaine successfully advocated for the inclusion of several Virginia counties into the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $504,450 in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for the Mount Rogers Health District in Southwest Virginia, which oversees eight localities at the epicenter of the addiction crisis. The funding will allow the district to partner with researchers across the country on solutions to address the addiction crisis in Southwest Virginia. 

“The drug addiction crisis has hurt every region of Virginia. We need to invest in more resources to better understand how to prevent and combat substance use disorders,” the Senators said. “This funding will help expand services for families impacted by addiction and support studies that explore how early exposure to substance abuse affects young people.”

The Mount Rogers Health District serves Bland, Carroll, Grayson, Smyth, Washington, and Wythe counties, and the cities of Bristol and Galax. The first round of this project will build capacity at partner sites. The second round will support a ten-year longitudinal study.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released a statement today following a decision by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to include Warren County in the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program:

“Despite increased public awareness about the dangers of opioids, this epidemic continues to devastate families all across the Commonwealth,” said the Senators. “We applaud the Office of National Drug Control Policy for including Warren County in the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA Program. We look forward to seeing these federal resources put to use to prevent future tragedies in Warren County as we continue working to channel additional federal dollars to fight this ongoing crisis.”

Opioid overdoses have surpassed car accidents and gun violence as the leading cause of accidental death in Virginia, with more than 1,500 overdose-related deaths in 2017. In Warren County alone, pharmacies distributed an average of 45 opioid pills per person, per year between 2006 and 2012.

HIDTA, a program created by Congress, is designed to facilitate law enforcement coordination at the federal, state, local, and tribal level in areas designated as critical drug-trafficking regions. In addition to facilitating law enforcement cooperation, HIDTA aims to enhance the sharing of intelligence among law enforcement agencies, facilitate the design of effective enforcement strategies and operations, and support coordinated law enforcement strategies in order to reduce the supply of illegal drugs in the United States.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have long advocated for increased federal funding to combat the opioid epidemic in Virginia. Last year, the Senators worked to successfully pass bipartisan legislation to help communities across Virginia by improving opioid treatment and recovery efforts and providing new tools for law enforcement. In 2016, Sens. Warner and Kaine also successfully advocated for the inclusion of other Virginia counties into HIDTA.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine celebrated key provisions from their bills to address the opioid crisis becoming law. The comprehensive substance abuse treatment bill, known as the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, was just signed into law by President Trump after it passed the Senate 98-2 and the House 393-8. The legislation includes four proposals from Warner that initially passed out of the Senate Finance Committee as part of the Helping to End Addiction and Lessen (HEAL) Substance Use Disorders Act of 2018 and three proposals from Kaine that passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee as part of the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018.

“This comprehensive legislation takes significant steps to stem the opioid epidemic that has devastated communities across the Commonwealth. By making necessary improvements to substance abuse treatment and recovery services, we can help save lives. That’s why I’m proud to report that this historic package includes several proposals that I championed to expand telehealth services to ensure more families get the addiction treatment they need,” said Warner.

“This bill is the product of a strong bipartisan effort to tackle the addiction crisis that is taking lives in Virginia and across the country. I’m proud the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act includes my proposals to help ensure job training is incorporated into recovery programs and that the kids who are hurt by this crisis get the resources they need. This comprehensive effort aiming to address prevention, treatment, and recovery is an important step toward solving the addiction crisis,” Kaine said.

Warner and Kaine have worked over the years to move legislation forward to combat the substance abuse epidemic, which in 2017 accounted for more than 72,000 deaths nationwide.

The final bill included provisions from four Warner bills to: 

  • Expand telehealth services for substance abuse treatment.
  • Make clear how Medicaid funds can be used for substance use disorder treatment through telehealth.
  • Help ensure children suffering from substance use disorders receive the assistance they need through telehealth services.
  • Improve data collection on substance use disorders among Medicaid recipients.

 The final bill included proposals from three Kaine addiction treatment bills to:

  • Give states the resources and guidelines to ensure recovery homes are effectively helping residents sustain recovery from opioid and substance use disorders.
  • Incorporate job training into drug addiction recovery programs.
  • Afford schools the opportunity to apply for grants to directly offer trauma support services to students impacted by the opioid epidemic.

Last month, Warner and Kaine voted for a FY19 funding bill that increased funding to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support programs related to the opioid crisis, including an additional $3.8 billion for treatment, prevention and research.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced a total of $1,413,108 in federal funding for drug courts with the Northern Neck Regional Jail and in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties.  The dollars are awarded through the U.S. Department of Justice’s FY 18 Adult Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program. Fairfax and Loudoun County will each receive $500,000 and Northern Neck Regional Jail will receive $413,108 to support drug courts that integrate evidence-based substance abuse treatment, mandatory drug testing, sanctions and incentives, and transitional services in a court setting to address opioid abuse reduction. 

“Tackling the substance abuse crisis requires a comprehensive strategy that addresses it from all angles including prevention, treatment, and recovery. This funding is crucial to supporting drug courts that mandate treatment services, enhance public safety, reduce crime and give those suffering from addiction a better chance at recovery,” the Senators said.  

In September, Warner and Kaine voted in support of legislation to dedicate $5.7 billion to combat substance abuse and played a critical role in the passage of a comprehensive opioid and substance abuse bill.

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), along with Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Bill Nelson (D-FL), introduced bipartisan legislation to establish new quality measures that would improve treatment for Americans battling opioid and substance addiction. Quality measures help establish national standards of care, used by health care professionals, when treating illnesses, diseases, cancer or other national health epidemics.  

In order to break the cycle of addiction, patients seeking treatment must have access to quality care that is proven to be safe and effective. However, a lack of standard quality measures for opioid and abuse treatment has led to gaps in care for patients suffering from addiction. In order to address this problem, the Addiction Treatment Quality Improvement Act would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to work with a coalition of healthcare providers to identify treatment gaps. Most importantly, the legislation will require CMS to develop a plan to eliminate the identified treatment gaps to ensure the best course of treatment for patients to overcome their addiction. 

“The national opioid crisis has affected every corner of our nation. In order to address this national health epidemic that has claimed too many lives, we need to make sure that Americans seeking help have access to safe and effective treatment,” said Sen. Warner.

“One of the most effective ways to reverse the tide of the opioid epidemic is to make sure those battling addiction receive quality care. Addiction exists everywhere. So should the battle to end it. This bipartisan legislation directs federal agencies to develop nationwide quality measures to prevent gaps in care and ensure a level of consistency in care for patients across the country,” said Sen. Grassley. 

“The opioid crisis is wreaking havoc on communities in Florida and nationwide,” said Sen. Nelson. “This bill aims to help those addicted get the best course of treatment.”

“APTA supports this important legislation that will gather meaningful data related to the opioid crisis, and support measure development, implementation, and alignment,” said Justin Elliott, Vice President of Government Affairs at American Physical Therapy Association.

“Patients need to know their care is safe and effective and this bill will identify opportunities to best assess and improve quality.  I applaud Senators Warner and Grassley for their leadership and continued commitment to drive quality improvement for the millions Americans and their loved ones affected by this tragic epidemic,” said Dr. Shantanu Agrawal, President and CEO, National Quality Forum. 

“In addressing the nation’s opioid crisis, the actions we take must be effective and evidence-based.  The Addiction Treatment Quality Improvement Act is an essential step in ensuring that the resources devoted to opioid and substance use disorders are making a difference.  Senators Warner and Grassley are making an important contribution toward solving this public health challenge.  We applaud their efforts and support this legislation,” said Mary R. Grealy, President, Healthcare Leadership Council.  

In the Senate, Sen. Warner has been working on ways to combat the opioid crisis that has had a devastating effect for communities in Virginia. Last week, the Senate passed a funding bill that includes $5.7 billion to respond to the opioid crisis. In addition, the Senate passed a comprehensive opioid package that includes four of Sen. Warner’s proposals to expand the use of telehealth services for substance abuse treatment and improve data sharing on substance use disorders.

The full text of the bill can be found here.

 

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WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that Virginia will receive $6,349,505 in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to combat the opioid epidemic. The funds will help Virginia communities combat this crisis by expanding access to quality substance use disorder and mental health services, including in rural populations. 

 “Communities across the Commonwealth have been devastated by the epidemic of opioid abuse that continues to spread across the country,” said the Senators. “These funds will help Virginia stem the alarming rise in overdose deaths and increase prevention and treatment efforts that will help save lives.”

The opioid epidemic has devastated many communities across Virginia. In 2017, the Virginia Department of Health estimated that 1,445 people died in Virginia as a result of a fentanyl, heroin, or prescription opioid overdose. Fatal drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in Virginia, surpassing car accidents and gun violence.

Last week, the Senators voted in support of a funding bill that provides approximately $5.7 billion to respond to the opioid crisis by developing non-opioid pain medication, and behavioral health workforce training. Sens. Warner and Kaine also celebrated the passage of a comprehensive opioid substance abuse bill that included their own previously introduced legislation.

The full list of grant awardees is below:

GRANTEE

CITY 

TOTAL 

Neighborhood Health

Alexandria

$285,000

Urban Strategies LLC

Arlington

$200,000

Blue Ridge Medical Center Inc.

Arrington

$285,000

One Care Of Southwest Virginia, Inc.             

Cedar Bluff

$200,000

Free Clinic Of The New River Valley Inc.

Christiansburg

$285,000

Piedmont Access To Health Services Inc.

Danville

$285,000

Clinch River Health Services, Inc.

Dungannon

$210,000

Harrisonburg Community Health Center, Inc.

Harrisonburg

$285,000

St Charles Health Council Inc.

Jonesville

$329,250

Tri-Area Community Health

Laurel Fork

$285,000

Rockbridge Area Free Clinic

Lexington

$257,371

Johnson Health Center

Madison Heights

$285,000

Martinsville Henry County Coalition For Health And Wellness

Martinsville

$217,644

Highland Medical Center

Monterey

$224,500

Central Virginia Health Services, Inc.

New Canton

$206,750

Peninsula Institute For Community Health, Inc.

Newport News

$285,000

Portsmouth Community Health Center, Inc.

Portsmouth

$285,000

Daily Planet Inc.

Richmond

$297,500

Richmond, City Of

Richmond

$285,000

Kuumba Community Health & Wellness Center, Inc.

Roanoke

$186,133

Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems, Inc.

Saltville

$237,773

Bay Rivers Telehealth Alliance

Tappahannock

$200,000

Greater Prince William Area Community Health Center, Inc.

Woodbridge

$285,000

Virginia Department of Health

Richmond

$200,000

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) met with Jim Carroll, the Acting Director and President Trump’s nominee to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the office in charge of combating the national opioid epidemic. During the meeting, Sen. Warner and Acting Director Carroll discussed the importance of expanding substance abuse treatment programs for rural communities in Virginia that have been hit the hardest by the opioid epidemic. 

“There are too many families in Virginia that have been devastated by the opioid epidemic. I appreciate the opportunity to hear how Acting Director Carroll plans to spearhead one of the Administration’s most critical offices to combat this national health crisis,” said Sen. Warner. “While I remain deeply concerned about the Trump Administration’s proposed steep cuts to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, I will closely monitor Acting Director Carroll’s nomination process to ensure he is the right candidate to tackle the national crisis on our hands.”

More Virginians died of opioid overdoses in 2017 than in any year in at least the past decade. In just five years, Virginia went from 572 annual opioid-related overdose deaths to 1,227 deaths due to overdoses. The ONDCP plays a significant role in the Administration’s effort to combat the national opioid crisis. The office is tasked with leading and coordinating the development, implementation and assessment of U.S. drug policy. It administers the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas and Drug-Free Communities grants and oversees the drug control activities of 16 federal agencies.

In his FY19 budget, President Trump proposed cutting 95 percent of ONDCP’s funding, which will force the office to shift its two main grant programs to the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS). The shift could pose negative consequences on the overall effectiveness of the programs in tackling the opioid epidemic.

In February 2018, Trump nominated Carroll to serve as the Director of ONDCP. Prior to his nomination, Carroll was tapped as the Acting Director for ONDCP and served as the Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff to John Kelly. On Thursday, July 11, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Carroll’s nomination.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that Virginia has received $9,807,162 in AmeriCorps funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency responsible for AmeriCorps and other national service programs. 

These grants will ensure 1,448 AmeriCorps members can continue to volunteer their service to communities across the Commonwealth through nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and faith-based groups.

Since 2017, the Trump Administration advocated for drastic cuts to critical national service programs, including CNCS. Earlier this year, Sens. Warner and Kaine supported the omnibus spending bill that included more than $1 billion in funding for CNCS.

“AmeriCorps members across Virginia help create positive change for the communities they serve,” said the Senators.  “From helping to tackle the opioid crisis, to protecting our historic public lands, their volunteer work goes a long way to building a better, stronger Commonwealth. We are pleased to announce continued funding for this important work.”

The projects funded by the AmeriCorps grants are:

  • American National Red Cross DC, Red Cross Corps—Fairfax, Va.—$1,066,400 AmeriCorps Funding; $473,600 Education Awards: members will install and test smoke detectors in neighborhoods vulnerable to natural disasters, especially wildfires.
  • City of Richmond-Human Services Commission, Richmond Area Healthy Futures Project—Richmond, Va.—$138,186 AmeriCorps Funding; $59,200 Education Awards: members will help expand services geared towards the prevention of opioid and heroin addiction and assist in recovery efforts.  
  • CARITAS, CARITAS AmeriCorps—Richmond, Va.—$235,106 AmeriCorps Funding; $100,640 Education Awards: members will help provide services to individuals and families who are homeless achieve affordable housing, assist with job placement efforts, and mentorship programs to help substance abuse recovery.
  • Institute for Advanced Learning & Research, Dan River Year AmeriCorps—Danville, Va.—$235,444 AmeriCorps Funding; $93,655 Education Awards: members will assist with STEM literacy among children and adults.
  • Catholic Charities USA, CCUSA AmeriCorps Peer Navigators—Alexandria, Va.—$118,400 Education Awards: members will help veterans and military families with accessing their benefits and ensuring their educational, social services, and physical/emotional needs.
  • Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Charities USA Refugee Resettlement—Alexandria, Va.—$271,491 AmeriCorps Funding; $142,080 Education Awards: members will assist with the resettlement of 3,000 refugees and other eligible populations, by helping them to assimilate in the U.S. 
  • Student Conservation Association, Inc., SCA AmeriCorps—Arlington, Va.—$321,602 AmeriCorps Funding; $2,505,102 Education Awards: members will engage in a number of projects that aim to protect, restore, and enhance public lands and waterways.
  • Student Conservation Association, Inc., SCA AmeriCorps Stewardship Teams—Arlington, Va.—$177,600 Education Awards: members will help inspire future leaders to become good stewards of the environment.
  • The Nature Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy National AmeriCorps—Arlington, Va.—$328,504 AmeriCorps Funding; $130,240 Education Awards: members will engage in local, state, and national environmental conservation work.

CNCS will also provide an additional $3,800,517 in Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards, a post-service benefit that can be used to cover the costs of post-secondary education or help pay off student loans. In addition, the federal investment announced today will help generate an additional $18,211,236 from the private sector, foundations, and other sources – further increasing the return on the federal investment.

The federal investment today also includes $3,409,912 for the Virginia Office of Volunteerism and Community Service, the Governor-appointed state service commission, to support additional AmeriCorps programs in the state.

 

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WASHINGTON — In an effort to curb the nation’s opioid epidemic, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today introduced four bipartisan bills aimed at making it easier for people to access substance use disorder treatment using telehealth services.  

“One of the main drivers of the opioid crisis is that too many people lack access to quality substance use disorder treatment,” said Sen. Warner.  “Expanding access to telehealth services could not only save lives but equip rural and underserved communities with better tools to fight this epidemic.”

Telehealth is the provision of health care services via telecommunications technologies, such as live video interactions, that make it easier for healthcare providers to treat patients no matter where they live. However, in order for a Medicare patient to receive reimbursement for substance use disorder treatment, individuals are obligated to receive care from a Medicare approved location known as an originating site. Oftentimes individuals who need treatment live out of reach from the originating site or those centers may be filled at capacity. That is why Sen. Warner, along with Sens. John Thune (R-SD), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and John Cornyn (R-TX), introduced the Expanding Telehealth Response to Ensure Addiction Treatment (eTREAT) Act to reduce the existing barriers to expand telehealth services for substance use disorder treatment. The bill text is available here.

Virginia is a national leader in telemedicine. The University of Virginia Center for Telehealth was launched in 1994 and has since grown into a national model for the health industry. Since then, UVA and its network of 152 telemedicine partners have enabled more than 51,000 patient encounters across more than 60 specialties, saving Virginians roughly 16 million miles of travel. While the center was selected as one of 14 regional telehealth resource centers by the federal government, it still faces barriers to delivering care because outdated federal laws restricts Medicare’s coverage of telehealth services.

"The University of Virginia Health System and our Center for Telehealth commend Senator Warner for his leadership in addressing barriers that prevent patients from getting needed substance abuse treatment in a timely way by eliminating burdensome geographic originating site restrictions in Medicare.  The Expanding Telehealth Response to Ensure Addiction Treatment (eTREAT) Act of 2018 will allow telehealth-- demonstrated to be an effective tool to deliver health care-- to provide such evaluation and treatment services to greater numbers of patients nationwide,” said Dr. Karen Rheuban, Director of the UVA Center for Telehealth.

In addition, Sen. Warner introduced three other bills aimed at expanding the use of telehealth services for Medicaid patients receiving substance use disorder treatment.

The Medicaid Substance Use Disorder Treatment via Telehealth Act will make clear how federal Medicaid funds can be used for substance use disorder treatment through telehealth services. Specifically, the bill will require the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue guidance on the reimbursement options available to state Medicaid services and treatment of substance use disorder through telehealth. The bill text is available here.

In addition, the Telehealth for Children’s Access to Services and Treatment (TeleCAST) Act will help ensure children suffering from substance use disorder receive the assistance they need through telehealth services. The bill will require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to evaluate the population of children who utilize Medicaid treatment for substance use disorder. In addition, the bill requires that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) produce a report on reducing barriers to using telehealth services and remote patient monitoring for pediatric populations under Medicaid. The bill text is available here.

In 2003, then-Gov. Warner expanded Medicaid coverage for telemedicine statewide, including evaluation and management visits, a range of individual psychotherapies, the full range of consultations, and some clinical services, including in cardiology and obstetrics. Coverage was also expanded to include non-physician providers. Among other benefits, the telehealth expansion allowed individuals in medically underserved and remote areas of Virginia to access quality specialty care that isn’t always available at home. 

The final bill, the Opioid Addiction Treatment Programs Enhancement Act, will improve data collection on substance use disorder among Medicaid recipients. The bill will require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to publish comprehensive data on the CMS website regarding the prevalence of substance use disorder within the Medicaid beneficiary population and the services provided for treatment of substance use disorders under Medicaid. By receiving the most up-to-date information, states will be better equipped to combat the growing opioid epidemic by targeting their efforts in communities that need it the most. The bill text is available here

In the Senate, Sen. Warner has been working on ways to combat the opioid crisis that has had a devastating effect for communities in rural Southwest Virginia.  In March, Sen. Warner voted in favor of the omnibus bill that provided a total of $3.3 billion in increased funding to combat the opioid crisis, including an increase of $2.8 billion in treatment, prevention and research for programs under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help communities across Virginia and the nation fight against the opioid epidemic. He has also passed into law bipartisan legislation to expand the use of federal telehealth services. 

 

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Sen. Warner met with ARC Co-Chair last month in his Senate office in Washington

 

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement after the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Tim Thomas, President Trump’s nominee to be the Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission: 

I was proud to support Mr. Thomas’ nomination to lead federal efforts to foster economic development in Appalachia,” said Sen. Warner. “Despite the Administration’s attempt to defund the Appalachian Regional Commission, I worked with my colleagues on a bipartisan funding agreement this week that just increased its funding by $3 million—the highest level approved in decades. Now that he has been confirmed as its co-chair, I trust Mr. Thomas will carry out his duties with a clear focus on expanding economic opportunities in the region and I look forward to working together to achieve this.” 

The Appalachian Regional Commission is a federal-state partnership that has invested in 25,000 projects across Appalachia’s 420 counties. For more than fifty years, ARC has provided funding and support for job-creating community projects across the 13 Appalachian states, producing an average of $204 million in annual earnings for a region often challenged by economic underdevelopment. Since its inception in 1965, ARC has generated over 300,000 jobs and $10 billion for the 25 million Americans living in Appalachia.

A bipartisan Congressional budget agreement passed by Congress this week included a $3 million increase in additional funding for ARC, for a total of $155 million in FY18. In his budget plan, President Trump had proposed eliminating funding for the ARC entirely. In response, Sen. Warner and a bipartisan coalition of Senators who represent Appalachian states called on President Trump to reverse his proposal to zero out funding for this important federal-state partnership. In 2017 alone, Sen. Warner announced over $7 million in ARC grant funding for projects in Virginia’s Appalachian counties.

Sen. Warner serves as a co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Appalachia Initiative, which has laid out a roadmap for bipartisan legislation to jumpstart economic growth in the region. He has introduced bipartisan legislation to support and encourage public-private partnerships in Appalachia that improve regional infrastructure, encourage entrepreneurship, and create jobs.  

Mr. Thomas served on the state staff of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as a field representative based in the Senator’s Bowling Green office. A native Kentuckian, Thomas previously served in the administration of former Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher as a special assistant to the secretary of the Kentucky Environmental Cabinet, handling matters including legislative initiatives for the agency, according to the ARC In a meeting last month, Sen. Warner and Thomas discussed their shared priorities for Appalachia, including workforce development and combatting the opioid crisis.

 

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Warner, Kaine Announce More Than $300,000 to Help Rural Communities in SWVA Combat Opioid Epidemic

Funds will provide Virginia youth and families living in rural areas with health education to prevent opioid abuse

Nov 21 2017

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will provide $321,638 to support health education initiatives spearheaded by the Virginia Cooperative Extension aimed at preventing opioid abuse among vulnerable communities in rural Southwest Virginia.  

“This grant will help educate young Virginians and other at-risk individuals about the growing risks of prescription drugs, which now claim as many as 60,000 lives every year,” said the Senators. “The funds will help empower rural communities in the fight against this growing health epidemic by promoting the responsible use of opioids and helping save lives.”

The grant will fund a project to target those individuals in rural Southwest Virginia who are most at risk of the negative effects of prescription opioids. Its goal is to provide prevention education for youth at a vulnerable stage in their development and their families in order to provide skills and support to make healthy decisions with drugs. The project will also target hospital patients to help make them aware of the dangers associated with use of opioid pain medications and provide access to support should they or a family member experience problems related to opioid use.

The grant is provided through NIFA’s Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grant Program, which seeks to address the needs of rural Americans through individual and family health education programs delivered via cooperative extension. The program assist relevant, evidence-based, non-formal education programs and services informed by the human, social, and behavioral sciences to promote and aggrandize rural health, strengthen economic vitality and, in the long run, mollify the effects of rural privation.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is an educational outreach program of Virginia's land-grant universities: Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, and a part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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