USDA Prioritizes Investments in Telemedicine to Address Opioid Crisis in Rural America

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is giving funding priority to address opioid misuse in rural communities. To respond to the epidemic, the department is working to build infrastructure for prevention, treatment and recovery. It views telemedicine as critical to this mission.

“The opioid epidemic is dramatically impacting prosperity in many small towns and rural places across the country,” said Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett. “With this focused investment, we are targeting our resources to be a strong partner to rural communities to build innovative local responses to this significant challenge.”

The USDA may award up to 30 special consideration points for Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program applications for projects that provide opioid treatment services. The deadline for these applications is April 15, 2019.

USDA may award 10 special consideration points for opioid-related DLT projects or for those that provide Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education as their primary purpose. The application deadline for these projects is May 15, 2019.

President Donald J. Trump has mobilized his entire Administration to address opioid misuse by directing the declaration of a nationwide Public Health Emergency. Last year, USDA worked with the Office of National Drug Control Policy to establish a White House Rural Opioid Federal Interagency Working Group that is improving coordination of federal resources in rural America. In December, USDA launched the Community Opioid Misuse Toolbox. For more information, visit

Indian Country has been disproportionately impacted by the opioid crisis, and many Tribes are turning to innovative solutions. To highlight one strategic way a Tribe is addressing the issue: The Cherokee Nation will leverage a $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor grant to provide jobs and employment services to those impacted by the health and economic effects of opioid use, addiction and overdose.

RELATED: Cherokee Nation Awarded Up to $6M Dislocated Worker Grant