Wolf Administration Vows to Continue Battle Against Opioid Crisis

| January 8, 2019

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Governor Tom Wolf and his administration pledged on Monday to continue working during his second term to combat the opioid crisis through the areas of prevention, rescue, and treatment.

(PHOTO: Dr. Rachel Levine, Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania)

The administration also highlighted work completed to fight the crisis over the past four years.

“My administration has worked to assist those people who are struggling with opioid use disorder by increasing access to Medicaid, offering a free hotline for people to get help and providing naloxone to first responders and the public,” Governor Wolf said. “We are hopeful the number of opioid deaths is decreasing, and we pledge to continue our efforts to assist people affected by this epidemic.”

In February 2015, Governor Wolf expanded Medicaid in Pennsylvania, allowing more than 125,000 to receive treatment for substance use disorders. Also, in 2015, then-physician general Dr. Rachel Levine signed a standing order for naloxone, the life-saving opioid overdose reversal medication; the governor began a series of more than 90 opioid roundtable discussions; the Department of Human Services opened 45 Centers of Excellence for opioid use disorder treatment in communities across the Commonwealth; and the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs introduced the warm handoff program to get more people into treatment for opioid use disorder, all leading up to the January 2018 opioid disaster declaration, which has been renewed four times, most recently in December 2018.

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Since Governor Wolf first signed the heroin and opioid disaster declaration, 16 state agencies, through the Opioid Command Center (OCC), have continuously worked to fight the opioid epidemic.

Under the disaster declaration, some accomplishments include waiving birth certificate fees for individuals seeking treatment, using federal Medicaid funding in treatment facilities to provide more than 12,000 individuals access to medically necessary treatment, and providing career services to people who have been impacted by the opioid epidemic and plan to return to work.

“The latest renewal of the disaster declaration, which has covered nearly a year, shows that there is still work to be done to address this crisis,” Governor Wolf said.

“Addressing this crisis requires a multi-faceted approach involving a wide range of state agencies, including health-related agencies, public safety and law enforcement, and community partners.”

Recently, the Wolf Administration distributed 6,105 kits of naloxone as part of Stop Overdoses in PA: Get Help Now Week, a statewide initiative to get the overdose reversal medication naloxone to Pennsylvanians. An additional 1,465 people left their name and contact information requesting to receive naloxone.

“The opioid crisis has been and continues to be a priority, and we will continue to work to assist those affected by the disease of addiction, their loved ones, and their communities,” Governor Wolf said. “I am committed to continuing this important work in my second term.”


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