Wolf Administration to Use 21st Century Cures Grant Funding to Further Expand Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Harrisburg, PA – The Wolf Administration today announced that medical institutions and organizations are now able to apply for one of four $1 million grants to further combat the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania. These grants will establish the Pennsylvania Coordinated Medication-Assisted Treatment (PacMAT) program.

“Currently, only one in 10 individuals with substance use disorder who need treatment receive treatment; I am committed to changing that,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “PacMAT will allow us to expand access to Medication-Assisted Treatment to uninsured, underinsured, and privately insured patients who are suffering from the disease of addiction.”

Working together, the departments of Health, Human Services, and Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) will award the grants chosen for the PacMAT program. The grants are funded through the 21st Century Cures grant, a $26.5M federal grant received by the Wolf Administration to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic by increasing access to treatment, reducing unmet treatment need, and reducing opioid overdose-related deaths through the provision of prevention, treatment, and recovery activities for opioid use disorder (OUD).

Through PacMAT, organizations and institutions will create a hub-and-spoke network of health care providers to provide access to MAT for patients who are suffering from opioid use disorder. The Wolf Administration implemented a similar concept in 2016 called Centers of Excellence. These centers expand access to treatment for the Medicaid population and are responsible for both the behavioral and physical health needs, as well as the social support needs of the patient, and must expand access to MAT.

“Substance use disorder does not discriminate based on income, race, gender, age, or where you live,” said Acting Secretary and Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine. “Every Pennsylvanian knows and loves someone that is battling addiction. The Wolf Administration is attacking this epidemic from all angles, and these grants are another tool in our arsenal.”

The hub is defined as a centralized addiction specialist physician-lead team who will provide support and other services to the spokes, which are defined as the primary care providers who will provide treatment to patients in their community. Patients will receive consistent addiction counseling from drug and alcohol providers in their community identified and coordinated by the hub.

“Families continue to be ravaged by the disease of addiction and we must stop the momentum of this epidemic,” said Jennifer Smith, acting secretary of DDAP. “This new grant funding for PacMAT will help us better meet the outpatient treatment needs of those individuals with substance use disorders.”

The Wolf Administration holds the fight against heroin and prescription opioids as a top priority. To continue the battle against the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania, Governor Wolf, working with the General Assembly, has included the following in the 2017-18 budget:

  • Expanding access to life-saving naloxone by providing $5 million through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to first responders, law enforcement, and other public entities across the commonwealth;
  • Maximizing federal 21st Century Cures Act funding, which includes $26.2 million in each of the next two years for Pennsylvania, to expand access to treatment services, particularly for individuals who are uninsured or underinsured; and
  • Providing $2 million to expand specialty drug courts to expand treatment strategies that divert offenders into more meaningful treatment and recovery.

Some of the administration’s other initiatives to fight the opioid epidemic include:

  • 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 Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) through the legislative process so that doctors are required and able to check the system each time they prescribe opioids and benzodiazepines;
  • Increasing the number by 25 of rural Medicaid providers who are able to prescribe MAT through funding from a federal grant;
  • 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;
  • Educating and encouraging patients to properly use, store and dispose of unused prescription medications through drug take-back initiatives, and expanding the number of drug take-back locations to more than 600; and
  • Increasing the availability of naloxone.

To apply for the grant and for more information on PacMAT, visit this link.