KUNM

Health Resources and Services Administration

DoD via CC

Congress is spending billions more than it ever has to fight the opioid epidemic affecting the nation. Some of that money is going to rural areas, and there was some concern that the rural communities being targeted were almost entirely white.

JESSICA7191 VIA PIXABAY / CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE

New Mexico’s been fighting the opioid epidemic for decades, but it wasn’t until last year that the federal government declared it a public health emergency. Congress just pumped up the budget for fighting the epidemic by billions, including $100 million for rural areas. But none of the rural counties in our state were targeted for that money. Now that’s changing.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Rio Arriba County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution on Thursday, May 24, protesting federal public health grants that are supposed to focus on white rural counties in the U.S.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Congress boosted the budget for the battle against the opioid epidemic this year, and a chunk of it—$100 million—is slated for treatment and prevention in rural communities. But something about how lawmakers chose to prioritize that money caught a New Mexico health official by surprise: the funding is focused on counties that are mostly white.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

The federal government is distributing grant money to counties to fight opioid addiction. But Española and the surrounding area might not get any of it, even though communities there have struggled for years with some of the highest overdose death rates in the country.