• Text Resize A A A
  • Print Print
  • Share Share on facebook Share on twitter Share

Remarks with Vice President Pence at Innovative Readiness Training

Alex M. Azar II
Innovative Readiness Training Operation Coal Country
August 8, 2019
Manchester, KY

Thanks to the roaring economy under President Trump, there’s no better time to be focused on new education and training opportunities for America’s workers. At HHS, we do a lot of work to help members of needy families get their first job and achieve self-sufficiency. The Pledge to America’s Workers is a key public-private effort to help Americans take the next step and get the skills they need throughout the course of their career.

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Congressman Rogers, for that introduction, and thank you for your remarkable leadership over the years in our country’s fight against substance abuse and opioid addiction in particular.

Thank you, Mr. Vice President, for making this trip to Kentucky to shine a light on the work that’s being done to provide healthcare as part of the Innovative Readiness Training operation, and all that’s being done across Kentucky by local communities to support people struggling with substance abuse.

Thank you also to all those in uniform joining us today, for the work you’re doing to provide healthcare to thousands of Kentuckians.

You have dedicated your lives to service, and we at HHS especially appreciate the work you’re doing to serve your fellow Americans today.

We’re here in Kentucky to talk not just about access to healthcare, but, in particular, the importance of access to treatment for substance abuse.

I’m proud that President Trump and HHS have been fighting back against our country’s opioid crisis and other substance abuse challenges, like methamphetamines, and that effort includes a special focus on rural parts of America like Eastern Kentucky.

Part of our work is bringing the scientific expertise and the resources of the federal government to bear, but our work also requires listening closely to local communities.

Soon after taking office as HHS secretary last year, I met with Sam Quinones, the author of the book Dreamland, which included some stories from here in Kentucky and was many Americans’ first introduction to the individuals and communities hardest hit by the opioid crisis. I asked him where, in all the travel he’s done, he’s seen reasons for hope.

He had a clear answer: Go talk to those in the hardest hit communities, and learn about the coalitions they’ve built. When communities come together, he said, they can beat this crisis.

So that’s what we’ve tried to support from HHS—and I know it’s been going on here in Kentucky. One of our efforts is called HEALing Communities, a study launched earlier this year by the National Institutes of Health, to support communities from four states in implementing a comprehensive approach to dramatically reducing opioid overdose deaths.

One of those states is Kentucky, and one of the communities that will be a particular focus of this work is next door to here in Knox County.

A key piece of substance abuse treatment at the local level, especially in rural areas, is a network of what we call community health centers, which HHS supports through grants from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

We’re announcing today that the number of patients receiving the gold standard for opioid addiction treatment, medication-assisted treatment, from these health centers increased 142 percent from 2016 to 2018. So we’re incredibly proud of their work, and I want to thank everyone who’s here representing health centers today.

I now want to turn things over to Governor Bevin.

The governor joined us at HHS when we announced the launch of the HEALing Communities study that I mentioned, and we’ve worked closely together on combating the opioid crisis and substance abuse. I want to thank him for his leadership in this fight.

Thank you to everyone for having me here today. It’s a pleasure to introduce to you now Governor Matt Bevin.

Content created by Speechwriting and Editorial Division 
Content last reviewed on August 8, 2019