Wolf Budget Funds Critical Efforts to Fight Pennsylvania Overdose Epidemic

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 8.39.54 PMHARRISBURG, Pa. – Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Gary Tennis sat down with media Thursday to discuss the Wolf Administration’s efforts to combat the opioid crisis, as well as Governor Wolf’s 2016-17 proposed budget.

Governor Wolf’s proposed 2016-17 budget provides the resources to fight the overdose death epidemic in Pennsylvania, but without those investments the efforts will be in jeopardy.

“With funding for human services programs at risk without new revenues in this budget, the well-being of Pennsylvanians affected by the worst ever overdose death epidemic could be at risk,” according to a release issued Thursday by the governor’s office.

“Although we don’t know what possible budget cuts might look like, we do know that any cuts to funding for drug and alcohol programs – which until last year have always been among the first to be cut – will only exacerbate the current opioid epidemic,” said Secretary Tennis. “In fact, years of inadequate funding of drug and alcohol programs have contributed to the epidemic we face today. If drug and alcohol funds are cut because we can’t balance a budget with new revenues, we will make an already tragic time in our history even worse.”

Nearly 2,500 Pennsylvanians died of drug overdoses in 2014. The number is expected to be higher for 2015. Addiction affects one in four families.

In January, the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) released its five-year projections of state revenues and expenditures for 2015-16 through 2020-21. The IFO warned that without corrective action, the commonwealth is facing a nearly $1.9 billion structural deficit for 2016-17. Gov. Wolf has committed to a balanced budget.

“ithout new investments and revenue, many human services organizations, including many of the state’s county-level drug and alcohol commissions, could continue to struggle to survive. Called Single County Authorities, these county-level organizations receive state and federal money through contracts with DDAP to plan, coordinate, fiscally manage and implement the delivery of drug and alcohol prevention, intervention, and treatment services at the local level, primarily through contracts with drug and alcohol treatment service providers.

“The number one priority for SCAs today in this opioid epidemic is funding treatment for patients,” Secretary Tennis said. “Without adequate funding, not only is that effort hampered, but any efforts to expand access and availability will be hamstrung. Likewise, initiatives to strengthen case management that connects overdose survivors from the emergency department to a treatment facility and expand availability of medication-assisted treatment and long-term residential treatment will likely stall.”

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