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Report Details Opioid Overdose Hospitalization Trends, HAP Continues Work to Address Opioid Crisis

June 13, 2018

The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) today released a report detailing hospitalization trends related to the opioid overdoses. While the research shows that Pennsylvania is making progress in addressing the opioid crisis, it also highlights the heartbreaking reality that the opioid use disorder touches every part of the state, and all demographic and socioeconomic groups.

The report’s key findings include:

  • Pain medication overdoses leveled (2.2% decrease) during 2017. This a sign that the collective work of the hospitals, health systems, and public health official to reduce prescription quantities and durations, and monitor prescribing habits, are having an effect
  • The cost of opioid overdose admissions rose 18 percent from 2016 ($27.1 million during 2016; $32 million during 2017)
  • Age remains an important factor in whether the overdose admission is by heroin or pain medication. The average age for heroin overdose admissions during 2016 and 2017 was 33 years. The average age of overdose admissions for pain medication went down slightly from 54 years to 53 during 2017.

“The latest Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council report underscores the opioid crisis’ wide reach. It doesn’t discriminate based on demographics or socioeconomic class, and its effects are felt at every corner of the commonwealth, said Michael J. Consuelos, MD, HAP’s senior vice president, clinical integration.

“Hospitals are taking the lead to treat current patients, expand access to treatment, reduce the supply of opioids in our communities, and prevent overdoses; however, we know our work isn’t done. We continue to advocate for access to medication-assisted treatment, behavioral health care, and telemedicine services to provide patients with the evidenced-based resources they need to achieve long-term recovery.”

Pennsylvania’s hospitals applauded this action and have been working with state and local governments and organizations across the commonwealth to develop collaborative and individual solutions to address the crisis in the communities they serve, including:

  • Managing pain expectations
  • Implementing prescribing guidelines and utilizing the Pennsylvania Prescription Drug Monitoring Database
  • Offering drug takeback boxes and events in the community
  • Developing warm hand-off protocols
  • Emphasizing the importance of integrating behavioral health services into recovery plans

Earlier this year, Pennsylvania’s hospitals applauded Governor Wolf’s action to declare the opioid crisis a public health disaster, and his subsequent extension of the disaster declaration to allow for additional resources to be allocated to address the crisis.

While the PHC4 report shows that the commonwealth is making some strides to address the opioid crisis, more work has yet to be done. HAP continues to advocate for:

  • Increased focus on behavioral health funding to provide inpatient and outpatient services, as well as places to care for patients who have other conditions in addition to substance use disorder
  • Resources to help hospitals, including support for telemedicine services. Telephsychiatry can be especially helpful to patients (especially in rural and underserved areas) who do not have easy access to brick-and-mortar behavioral and mental health services.

HAP and the hospital community remain dedicated to addressing the opioid crisis and will continue to monitor the status of Governor Wolf’s disaster declaration and related legislative and regulatory initiatives.

For more information, please contact Michael J. Consuelos, MD, HAP’s senior vice president, clinical integration; Jennifer Jordan, HAP’s vice president, regulatory advocacy; or Scott Bishop, HAP’s senior vice president, legislative advocacy.

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