Wolf Administration Unveils Public/Private Partnership to Address Opioid Crisis Through Data

March 27, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf’s administration today continued its fight against the opioid epidemic by unveiling a unique partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and the Aetna Foundation to build on the Opioid Data Dashboard, incorporating data and public health modeling. The Aetna Foundation is providing a $1 million grant for the project.

“My administration takes an all-hands-on-deck approach to this crisis, but it takes the entire community to truly combat the opioid epidemic,” Gov. Wolf said. “The Aetna Foundation’s $1 million grant brings together government, academia and private industry in a unique partnership that allows us to pool our resources and create tools to make a difference. These partnerships are vital as we work to help our loved ones, our neighbors and our communities devastated by this disease.”

On March 14, the commonwealth launched the dashboard focused on data sets in the three main areas distinguished by Gov. Wolf in his disaster declaration: prevention; rescue and treatment. The grant from the Aetna Foundation will fund a two-year project to enhance the Opioid Data Dashboard to provide real-time data and build models to predict trends for future needs of communities.

“Through this partnership, we will be able to not only see what is happening locally, but will be able to use that information to predict future trends,” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. “This will be invaluable information as we work to get treatment for Pennsylvanians suffering from the disease of opioid-use disorder.”

“In as near-real time as possible, this dashboard will give health officials, policymakers, law enforcement and the public a more complete, dynamic picture of the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania,” Dr. Donald S. Burke, dean, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health said. “This should allow us to maximize limited resources to stem this epidemic, which is disproportionately impacting our state. I’m impressed with the foresight of the Aetna Foundation to fund this initiative and proud of the steps our state leaders are taking to make public health data available to solve a public health crisis.”

“Solving the opioid crisis will take a collaborative, cross-sector effort,” Dr. Harold Paz, Aetna chief medical officer and Aetna Foundation board member said. “This data dashboard will fuel the work being done in Pennsylvania by bridging the strengths of the private, public and academic sectors to save more lives. At Aetna, we’re encouraged by the work of the state of Pennsylvania to build a dashboard that will help inform decision making that will not only serve as a vital tool for Pennsylvanians, but can be replicated in other states deeply impacted by this epidemic.”

On January 10, Governor Wolf signed a statewide disaster declaration for the opioid epidemic to enhance state response, increase access to treatment, and save lives.

The disaster declaration focuses on 13 initial initiatives:

  • Establishes an Opioid Operational Command Center located at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency;
  • Expands access to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) to other commonwealth entities for clinical decision-making purposes;
  • Adds overdoses and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) as Reportable Conditions in Title 28, Chapter 27;
  • Authorizes an emergency purchase under the procurement code for the 24/7 helpline, 1-800-662-HELP;
  • Enables Emergency Medical Services providers to leave behind naloxone by amending the current Standing Order;
  • Waives regulations to allow pharmacists to give greater access to naloxone to prisons and treatment programs;
  • Allows for the immediate temporary rescheduling of all fentanyl derivatives to align with the federal DEA schedule while working toward permanent rescheduling;
  • Authorizes emergency purchasing to allow for an emergency contract to expand the advanced body scanner pilot program currently in place at Wernersville that is used on re-entrants returning to the facility;
  • Waives the face-to-face physician requirement for Narcotic Treatment Program (NTP) to allow initial intake review by a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP) or Physician Assistant (PA);
  • Expands access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) by waiving the regulatory provision to permit dosing at satellite facilities;
  • Waives annual licensing requirements for high-performing drug and alcohol treatment facilities;
  • Waives the fee provided for in statute for birth certificates for individuals who request a good-cause waiver by attesting that they are affected by Opioid Use Disorder; and
  • Waives separate licensing requirements for hospitals and emergency departments to expand access to drug and alcohol treatment to allow physicians to administer short-term MAT consistent with DEA regulations without requiring separate notice to DDAP.

Governor Wolf and state agencies have been increasing efforts in the fight against prescription drug abuse in multiple areas, including numerous programs and initiatives:

  • Working with the legislature to establish a new law limiting the number of opioids that can be prescribed to a minor and to individuals discharged from emergency rooms to seven days;
  • Strengthening the PDMP through the legislative process so that doctors are required and able to check the system each time they prescribe opioids and benzodiazepines;
  • Forming new prescribing guidelines to help doctors who provide opioid prescriptions to their patients, including guidelines specific to orthopedics and sports medicine;
  • Creating the warm handoff guideline to facilitate referrals from the emergency department to substance abuse treatment;
  • Teaming with the legislature to establish education curriculum on safe prescribing for medical schools; and
  • Awarding four $1 million grants for medication-assisted treatment using a hub and spoke model for Pennsylvanians who are uninsured, under-insured or have private insurance.

For more information on the state’s efforts to battle the opioid epidemic, visit https://www.pa.gov/guides/opioid-epidemic/ or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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