Warm Hand-off Study Resolution Clears First Hurdle
April 16, 2019
Today, the House Human Services Committee considered House Resolution 216. Sponsored by freshman lawmaker Todd Polinchock (R-Bucks), the resolution establishes a task force within the House of Representatives on “overdose recovery” and directs the Joint State Government Committee to establish an advisory committee aimed at studying the warm hand-off treatment for individuals with substance abuse disorder. The advisory committee consists of individuals that represent hospital administration, medical professionals, addiction specialists, law enforcement, and local government.
The advisory committee is tasked with recommending "ways to develop and implement overdose stabilization and warm hand-off centers' in communities across the commonwealth. Recommendation are to include:
- Identifying areas where the community would benefit most by these centers
- The design, staffing structure, and operational protocols of the overdose stabilization and warm hand-off centers
- Analysis of currently existing crisis health care facilities to find ways of expanding their services
- Identify self-sustaining funding sources
- Examining the need for creating a new licensing category
- Establishing evaluation criteria
- Methods of collecting clinical data related to capacity and treatment outcomes
HAP and its members continually strive to treat patients who come to hospitals as the first place they seek help. Whether that is because of an overdose or to seek treatment, hospitals are on the front line of the opioid epidemic and are continuously improving procedures to get patients to timely and appropriate care.
HAP welcomes the efforts of the legislature to fully understand the complex nature of the issue at hand. HAP does not believe a one size fits all solution in a commonwealth of drastically different communities will serve those who suffer from substance abuse disorder or their loved ones best. For example:
- Barriers for patients and providers across the commonwealth are not the same. Access to services varies greatly due a number of elements:
- Transportation needs
- Insurance design
- Time-of-day for referral
- Patient complexity (Examples: co-occurring diagnosis, pregnancy)
- Types of treatment providers (Example: abstinence vs. medically assisted)
- Comprehensive data on treatment capacity is not widely available. There is no single place to find state-wide capacity data
- There is a difference between the number of licensed providers and the number of available treatment slots. Providers may be licensed to provide this care, but they can also impose limits on the number of these patients they see
- It is unclear who is responsible for funding/supplying assessment, recovery support, and care management services
- Emerging best practices are continuing to evolve and just now are being tested. Hardwiring warm hand-off programs through legislation may hinder innovation and adoption of best practices
HAP looks forward to the results of the HR 216. The bill now goes to the full house for consideration.
For more information on legislative activity contact Stephanie Watkins, vice president for legislative advocacy. For more information about warm hand-off procedure or the Pennsylvania hospital community’s efforts to address the opioid crisis, please contact HAP’s Robert Shipp, vice president, quality and population health, or Jennifer Jordan, HAP’s vice president, regulatory advocacy.