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BLOG: Fighting Pennsylvania’s Opioid Epidemic is a Key Piece of the 2016-17 Budget

By: Jeff Sheridan, Press Secretary

June 20, 2016

Governor Wolf has spent much of his past three months at roundtables across Pennsylvania discussing local and statewide efforts to combat the opioid abuse and heroin use epidemic in Pennsylvania.

The Wolf Administration has been focusing on this issue since day one, and it has never been clearer that we must take further action now. We cannot afford to wait.

Governor Wolf has stressed the important role that the 2016-17 budget plays in addressing this crisis. Governor Wolf proposed $34 million to fight the opioid crisis in the final budget. This funding would allow the state to draw down approximately $18 million in matching federal funds, for the Department of Human Services to implement 50 Centers of Excellence that will treat more than 11,000 people that currently are not able to access treatment.

We have heard about the need for more treatment from dozens of legislators, health professionals, law enforcement, emergency personnel, and community leaders, as they have joined Governor Wolf, DDAP Secretary Gary Tennis, DOH Secretary Dr. Karen Murphy, Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine, DOC Secretary John Wetzel, DHS Secretary Ted Dallas, and Director of Homeland Security Marcus Brown at more than two dozen stops to discuss the importance of battling the opioid abuse and heroin use epidemic in Pennsylvania. Take a look at the map of their many stops here.

Through these roundtables, Governor Wolf has learned that every single community throughout the commonwealth is struggling to wrap their arms around the depth of this epidemic, and that treatment services are scarce and often difficult to navigate. Therefore the Wolf Administration sees enormous value in expanding access to all levels of treatment, including long-term residential, outpatient, and Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT).

Fighting Pennsylvania’s opioid and heroin epidemic is a top priority for the Wolf Administration. In 2014, nearly 2,500 Pennsylvanians died from a drug overdose. Heroin and opioid overdose are now the leading cause of accidental death in Pennsylvania, killing more individuals each year than motor vehicle accidents.

Pennsylvania must address this crisis like the public health epidemic that it is. It is vital that we combine efforts on the federal, state, and local levels to fight back against drug abuse and prevent the deaths of thousands of more Pennsylvanians. Governor Wolf’s proposed funding for the 2016-17 budget is the next crucial step in this collaborative effort.

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