Governor Wolf Secures $26.5 Million Federal Grant to Combat Heroin and Opioid Crisis

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Wolf announced that Pennsylvania secured a $26.5 million federal grant to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic. The departments of Aging, Drug and Alcohol Programs, Health, and Human Services jointly filed the successful grant application that will increase access to treatment, reduce unmet treatment need, and reduce opioid overdose related deaths through the provision of prevention, treatment, and recovery activities for opioid use disorder (OUD).

“The scourge that is heroin and opioid abuse must be attacked and this significant influx of federal dollars will help us in our fight,” Governor Wolf said. “We are combatting this crisis head on; that’s why I’ve made Cures Act funding an integral part of my 2017-18 budget, so we can focus dollars where they are needed – to expand access to treatment services. This important funding will build upon my administration’s extensive efforts to combat this epidemic.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the grant, which was funded by the 21st Century Cures Act, signed into law by President Obama in December 2016. The $1 billion grant over the next two years is to help combat the heroin and opioid epidemic in all 50 states. Pennsylvania received the fourth-largest grant award, behind California, Texas, and Florida.

The Cures Act grant announcement is phase one of two and totals $485 million. States can use the federal grants to improve prescription drug monitoring programs, implement prevention activities, and train health care providers on overdose prevention and recognizing potential cases of substance abuse.

“This funding is critical for Pennsylvania,” said Jennifer Smith, Acting Secretary, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. “Families continue to be ravaged by the disease of addiction and we must stop the momentum of this epidemic.

“These funds will initially be used to identify gaps in treatment services and locations where there are capacity shortages. The grant will enhance prevention efforts and raise awareness of the disease and ways to find help.”

Funding will support a comprehensive array of prevention, treatment, and recovery services depending on the needs of recipients. States and territories were awarded funds based on rates of overdose deaths and unmet need for heroin and opioid addiction treatment.

“Pennsylvania loses 10 people a day to this epidemic. Each one is someone’s family member, neighbor, colleague, and friend,” said Department of Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas. “This funding will help the Wolf Administration continue to address the issue comprehensively through prevention, education, and treatment.”

The project will support a comprehensive response to the heroin and opioid epidemic using a strategic planning process to conduct needs and capacity assessments. The results of the assessments will identify gaps and resources from which to build upon existing substance use prevention and treatment activities.

The commonwealth’s initial strategies have been developed and will include:

  • Provide clinically appropriate treatment services to 6,000 individuals who are uninsured or underinsured.
  • Expand treatment capacity for Medication Assisted Treatment for OUD.
  • Expand treatment capacity for underserved populations by targeted workforce development and cultural competency training.
  • Improve quality of prescribing practices through prescriber education.
  • Increase community awareness of OUD issues and resources through public awareness activities.
  • Expand implementation of warm hand-off referral practices to increase the number of patients transferred directly from the emergency department to substance use treatment.
  • Increase the number of youth receiving evidence-based prevention and life skills education programs.
  • Improve identification and referral of students for assessment and treatment by providing training to school personnel.
  • Expand Pennsylvania’s integration of its Prescription Drug Monitoring Program data at the point-of-care, promoting ease-of-use of this data in clinical decision-making.

“The Cures Act funding will be crucial in our fight against Pennsylvania’s opioid epidemic,” Department of Health Secretary Murphy said. “This funding will provide an opportunity for the commonwealth to enhance the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, providing physicians with the ability to monitor and control the overprescribing of opioids and help identify those who are in need of treatment.”

“Substance use disorder, particularly relating to prescription drugs, among adults age 60 and older is one of the fastest growing health problems facing the country, yet it remains under-identified, under-diagnosed, and under-treated,” said Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne.  “Securing this federal grant will enable the Wolf Administration to further strengthen its efforts to identify, treat, and provide a pathway to recovery across the lifespan.”

In 2015, there were over 33,000 heroin and opioid deaths in the United States; 3,500 of those occurred in Pennsylvania.