Wolf Administration Officials Provide Updates on Efforts to Address the Opioid Crisis
January 07, 2019
Dr. Rachel Levine, Secretary of Health, and representatives from state agencies including the Department of Health, the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Corrections, and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency outlined key accomplishments of Governor Wolf’s first term and outlined their priorities for his second term, which begins January 15.
During 2018, Wolf signed a heroin and opioid disaster declaration, which has helped the administration take unprecedented steps to implement substance use disorder and overdose prevention, rescue, and treatment resources across the commonwealth. The disaster declaration is in its fifth issuance. As part of the response plan, 17 state agencies and commissions have assembled an Opioid Command Center to facilitate collaboration to find new ways to treat the crisis.
Commenting about the severity of addiction and substance use disorder in the state, Secretary Levine said that, “This disease…has reached epidemic proportions in Pennsylvania.” She said that the Wolf Administration has identified combatting the opioid crisis as a key priority of its second term.
State officials outlined accomplishments of the collaborative work thus far, which include:
- Increasing the availability of naloxone through a standing order for the drug, as well as public education efforts about how to use it to revive individuals experiencing overdose
- Creating opioid stewardship initiatives and opioid education for clinical professionals to decrease the strength and duration of opioid prescriptions
- Increasing access to medication-assisted treatment through Medicaid expansion
- Developing state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) to track opioid prescriptions. The PDMP tracks 17 states and the District of Columbia and has helped to virtually eliminate “doctor shopping”
- Implementing warm hand-off protocol to help individuals experiencing overdose who present at hospital emergency department to access treatment resources
- Working with state agencies and insurers to eliminate prior authorization for medication-assisted treatment
- Creating 45 centers of excellence across the state to better integrate physical and behavioral health treatment through community-based care
Pennsylvania’s hospital community applauds the Wolf Administration’s work to combat the opioid crisis. Hospitals across the commonwealth are working with state and local governments to lead the work to help substance use disorder patients access the treatment they need to recover from this disease. Hospitals are working to facilitate warm hand-off protocol, serving as centers of excellence, offering drug takeback facilities, and educating clinical staff and the public about substance use disorder.
For more information about this report or the Pennsylvania hospital community’s efforts to address the opioid crisis, please contact Michael J. Consuelos, MD, HAP’s senior vice president, clinical integration, or Jennifer Jordan, HAP’s vice president, regulatory advocacy.