In Reading and Lackawanna County, Governor Wolf Discusses 2016-2017 Budget Investment in Battling the Opioid Epidemic
September 01, 2016
Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and Department of Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas visited the Reading Health System and the Wright Center for Primary Care to discuss the significant strides made in the 2016-17 budget to combat the opioid and heroin epidemic in Pennsylvania. Earlier this week, Governor Wolf announced that his administration will implement an additional 25 Centers of Excellence (COE) locations throughout the state by January 1, 2017. The COEs will offer treatment to Pennsylvanians with opioid-related substance use disorder.
“I am thrilled that by working with Republicans and Democrats, we have achieved this level of funding for our fight against this public health crisis,” said Governor Wolf. “As we all know, the opioid epidemic does not discriminate – it affects Pennsylvanians from all walks of life. With these additional locations, my administration is continuing its commitment to expanding high-quality treatment across Pennsylvania. While the budget allows us to expand treatment for individuals suffering from addiction, we can and should do more to address this matter that is plaguing all of our communities.”
The 2016-2017 budget included $10 million in behavioral health funding and $5 million in medical assistance funding, totaling $15 million. This will allow DHS to draw down $5.4 million in federal funding for an overall total of $20.4 million.
During phase one, the Department of Human Services implemented 20 Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) Centers of Excellence by utilizing the $10 million in behavioral health funding. After working with its actuaries to analyze the impact of adding medication assisted treatment on Medicaid managed care rates and subsequently negotiating 2017 rates with managed care organizations, DHS has determined that they can implement 25 additional centers with the $5 million in state Medicaid funds and $5.4 million in federal funds. The additional 25 COEs announced will serve at least 5,600 additional individuals.
“The Centers for Excellence will provide vital, potentially life-saving coordination of care for Pennsylvanians struggling with the disease of addiction,” said Secretary Dallas. “Rather than just treating a person’s addiction, DHS will treat the entire patient through team-based treatment, with the explicit goal of integrating behavioral health and primary care and, when necessary, evidence-based medication assisted treatment. As our strategy involves both behavioral therapy and FDA-approved medication that individuals take to help curb cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms, it can improve the odds of recovery.”
“Reading Health is proud to be designated a Center of Excellence (COE) in the fight against opioid abuse,” said Reading Health President & CEO Clint Matthews. “Our interdisciplinary team of providers is dedicated to providing the highest quality of care to all members of our community and our designation as a COE will help provide the necessary treatment and resources to those in need.”
“The profession of medicine must humbly recognize that, although unintentionally, our pain prescribing patterns in a fragmented, ineffective care delivery system have contributed to our national opiate public health crisis,” Dr. Linda Thomas-Hemak, President and CEO of The Wright Center. “We must acknowledge our role in this devastating debacle not with shame, fear or discouragement but with intentional, passionate commitment to responsively and responsibly help generate and lead collective solutions. Every stakeholder needs to get involved in America’s ‘Turn the Tide’ initiative lead by Secretary Burwell. We need to build our care delivery and IT infrastructure and our community resource networks to be more effective, while we deliberately change culture and develop skillsets of current and future workforce to promote recovery and resilience. The Wright Center is privileged to be selected as a Pennsylvania Center of Excellence and we are absolutely committed to coming out of our organizational comfort zone to learn and best steward the allotted public dollars to ensure more effective care for the patients, families and communities we serve that are struggling with addiction.”
The Centers of Excellence are a central, efficient hub around which treatment revolves. These centers will have navigators to assist people with opioid-related substance use disorders though the medical system, and ensure they receive behavioral and physical health care, as well as any evidence-based medication-assisted treatment needed.
The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs will license the COEs as drug and alcohol providers that provide one of the three FDA-approved medications.
For more information about the Centers of Excellence, visit www.dhs.pa.gov.
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