Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf today urged President Donald Trump to heed the recommendations of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.
“The President’s commission has laid out a robust and reasonable plan for the federal government to be a better partner with states on combating the heroin and opioid crisis. In Pennsylvania, I have found bipartisan common ground on increasing funding for treatment, resources for health professionals, and tools for law enforcement. But, undoubtedly, the data makes clear there is more work to do.
“The primary recommendations of the President’s commission track closely with the progress we’ve made in Pennsylvania, including increasing treatment options through Medicaid and Medication-Assisted Treatment, expanding opioid education and training for health professionals, and establishing a Naloxone standing order.
“After his briefing today, I urge President Trump to move swiftly to get these recommendations into action. Too many families are being torn apart by this epidemic and it is causing real pain for law enforcement, health professionals and all of our communities. I thank the bipartisan governors who worked so hard to ensure these recommendations reflected the steps states are already taking to lead on this crisis. In Pennsylvania, we’ve seen that this epidemic does not see Republican or Democrat, and neither should our national response.”
Some of the steps Pennsylvania under Governor Wolf’s leadership has taken to combat the heroin and opioid crisis:
Expanding Treatment Centers of Excellence
Governor Wolf worked with the legislature to secure $20.4 million in the 2016-17 budget to combat Pennsylvania’s heroin crisis by expanding treatment options for Pennsylvanians struggling with opioid use disorder.
Redesigned Prescription Drug Monitoring Program
On August 25, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf announced that Pennsylvania’s redesigned Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) was fully operational and would serve as an important tool to help curb the prescription opioid and heroin public health crisis in the commonwealth.
Sharing Opioid Prescription Data
On June 29, 2017, the Wolf Administration announced that the Pennsylvania Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PA PDMP) is sharing data with drug monitoring programs in 10 states and Washington D.C.
Safer Opioid Prescribing Guidelines
On July 19, 2016, Governor Wolf was joined by members of his administration to announce new prescribing guideline recommendations for the safe and effective use of opioids.
Overdoses Reversed by Police with Naloxone
On June 13, 2016, Governor Wolf announced that since municipal police departments, the Pennsylvania State Police, and individual police officers were equipped with naloxone over one year ago, more than 2,000 opioid overdoses have been reversed.
State Police and Capitol Police Equipped With Naloxone
On April 7, 2015, Governor Wolf announced the Pennsylvania State Police will carry naloxone, the life-saving opioid overdose reversal antidote.
Naloxone, also known by the brand name “Narcan” is a prescription medicine that rapidly reverses heroin and other opioid overdoses. With a combination of grants donated by Aetna, Geisinger Health, Health Partner Plans, and Highmark, every state patrol car in Pennsylvania will be equipped with two naloxone doses.
On December 2, 2015, Governor Wolf announced that the Pennsylvania Capitol Police are now trained to administer and will carry the life-saving opioid overdose reversal antidote known as naloxone. This will allow officers to continue to protect the well-being and safety of those who visit, work and live in the areas of the Pennsylvania Capitol Police jurisdiction and the surrounding areas.
As of December 07, 2016, more than 2,000 opioid overdoses have been reversed by state and local police officers since November of 2014.
On January 31, 2017, Governor Wolf announced a proposal to include $10 million to provide Naloxone to first responders and law enforcement across the state through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
Naloxone in Schools
On September 18, 2015, Governor Wolf, together with Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera, Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy, and Secretary of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Gary Tennis, announced support for the use of the life-saving drug antidote naloxone at schools across the commonwealth.
Naloxone is administered to individuals suffering from an opioid overdose, such as heroin, and reverses the effects of the ingested drug.
Naloxone Standing Order
On October 28, 2015, Governor Wolf stood with Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine as Dr. Levine signed a standing order making it possible for all Pennsylvanians to access naloxone, a medication that can reverse an overdose that is caused by an opioid drug.
Received Grant to Fight Opioid Addiction in Rural Areas
On July 15, 2016, the Department of Human Services announced it received a nearly $3 million federal grant to double the number of primary care physicians delivering high-quality medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in rural Pennsylvania.
Limited Opioid Prescriptions to Emergency Room Patients and Minors
Governor Wolf signed legislation that limits the number of opioids a patient can receive at emergency rooms to a seven day supply with no refills. He also put the same restriction in place for minors no matter where they get a prescription. This does not make it harder for physicians to prescribe opioids for legitimate pain. Those suffering from crippling pain need relief, and we must be careful to protect the ability of sufferers of long-term pain or victims of trauma to receive appropriate medication.
Improved and Increased Education on Prescribing Opioids
We must prepare doctors and physicians for prescribing opioids and pain management by improving medical school and continuing education curricula on opioids. Governor Wolf signed legislation that developed a safe opioid prescribing curriculum in medical colleges and other medical training facilities offering or desiring to offer medical training. He also signed a bill that requires continuing education in pain management, addiction and dispensing for prescribers and dispensers.
Increased Access for Pennsylvanians to Dispose of Unwanted or Expired Prescription Drugs
On October 27, 2016, Governor Wolf signed a bill that ensured all federal, state and local law enforcement entities, hospitals, assisted living facilities, home health care agencies, long-term care nursing facilities, hospice, and commonwealth licensed pharmacies could serve as drop-off locations for any extra, unwanted, or expired prescription drug or over-the-counter pharmaceutical products.
Provided Guidance On Insurance Coverage of Substance Use Disorder Treatment
The Pennsylvania Insurance Department issued a notice outlining how health insurance companies are expected to apply parity laws for mental health and substance use disorder coverage. This notice was announced alongside a consumer guide to mental health and substance use disorder treatment designed to help Pennsylvanians understand their rights and the benefits to which they are entitled. The guide details what is required to be covered by different types of insurance and where help can be found, if necessary. The full guide is available at PID’s website here.
Increased Law Enforcement’s Ability to Hold Opioid Dealers Accountable
Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy issued a notice of intent to temporarily schedule the substance carfentanil, a narcotic substance, as a Schedule II controlled substance under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act in order to allow law enforcement to take appropriate action against those in possession of this extremely dangerous drug.
Reducing Opioid Addiction, Recidivism for Inmates
On December 15, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf announced $1.5 million in grants awarded to human services agencies serving 13 counties to provide Medication Assisted Treatment to offenders for substance abuse disorder.
Provided Warm Handoff Guidance to Emergency Room Doctors and Healthcare Professionals
On December 21, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf released guidance developed by the Department of Health and the Department of Drug and Alcohol programs in conjunction with the American College of Emergency Physicians to help emergency room doctors and healthcare professionals identify individuals with substance use disorder, including those who have been saved by naloxone, and get them into treatment – a process known as a warm handoff.
Tightening Medicaid Opioid Prescription Rules
On March 6, 2017, Governor Wolf announced several additional steps the commonwealth is taking to help tighten the rules under which medication, such as buprenorphine, can be prescribed under the Medicaid program:
Prescription Guidelines for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
On March 16, 2017, Governor Tom Wolf and former Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris, joined state and local leaders at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Montefiore to announce prescribing guideline recommendations for the safe and effective use of opioids in orthopedics and sports medicine.
Secured $26.5 Million to Combat the Heroin and Opioid Epidemic
On April 24, 2017, Governor Wolf announced that Pennsylvania secured a $26.5 million federal grant to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic.