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Governor Renews 90-day Opioid Disaster Declaration, Reviews Progress

April 04, 2018

Governor Wolf today announced the renewal of the 90-day opioid disaster declaration established to support an all-hands-on-deck approach to engaging multiple state agencies in a cohesive, concentrated, well-orchestrated effort to attack the epidemic. 

The Governor first declared the emergency on January 10, 2018. The declaration would have expired on April 10 if not renewed.

The Governor remains focused on helping every Pennsylvanian affected by opioid use disorder and presented the progress made to date to:

  • Remove barriers to treatment
  • Enhance data collection and analysis
  • Aid in the development of new initiatives that address the evolving crisis

Specifically, the Governor described steps forward on twelve different initiatives, including:

  • Creating an Opioid Operational Command Center at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, where twelve different agencies, including health, human services, public safety, and law enforcement work together to reduce regulatory barriers hampering efforts to stem the epidemic
  • Expanding access to prescription drug monitoring—Pennsylvania and neighboring states are now sharing their prescription drug monitoring databases
  • Reporting opioid overdoses and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) in newborns
  • Implementing the Naloxone Leave Behind program for use by emergency medical services, as well as expanded access to Naloxone
  • Waiving fees for birth certificates for people with opioid use disorders, allowing faster access to treatment and benefits
  • Waiving annual licensing requirements for high-performing drug and alcohol treatment facilities—many have applied for and received two-year licenses

The Governor was joined by State Senator Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) to introduce new legislation that would empower the commonwealth’s Secretary of Health to declare a public health emergency.

In the event of a serious, life-threatening public health emergency, such as the release of a dangerous chemical or biological agent or a disease epidemic, Senate Bill 1001 would allow the Department of Health to waive regulations and streamline the deployment of resources in order to address the crisis.

“HAP and the hospital community applaud the Wolf Administration for its work to address the opioid crisis,” said HAP President and CEO Andy Carter. “We know the crucial role that hospitals play in preventing overdoses and treating substance use disorder, and we pledge to continue our partnership in this endeavor.”

Hospitals are involved in supporting many of the initiatives set in motion by the Governor’s emergency declaration, including:

  • Collaborating with government, county organizations, and health care providers to organize warm handoff protocols, to help overdose survivors connect to treatment options
  • Facilitating education and overdose prevention resources
  • Supporting programs to help mothers with substance use disorder and their babies suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome 
  • Implementing opioid prescription guidelines and utilizing the Pennsylvania Drug Monitoring Database 

The hospital community is proud to partner with state and local governments and community organizations to support substance use disorder patients and their families. 

For more information about the opioid disaster declaration and the Pennsylvania hospital response, please contact Jennifer Jordan, vice president, regulatory advocacy, or Scott Bishop, senior vice president, legislative advocacy.

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