Statement of The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania
For the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance Subcommittee on Health Care
Michael J. Consuelos, MD, Senior Vice President for Clinical
“Examining Heroin and Opiate Abuse
in Southwestern Pennsylvania”
October 15, 2015
Toomey, Ranking Member Stabenow and members of the Subcommittee, my name is
Michael J. Consuelos, MD, and I am the senior vice president for clinical
integration for The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP). HAP
represents and advocates for the nearly 240 acute and specialty care hospitals
and health systems across the state.
We appreciate the opportunity to describe
how HAP and Pennsylvania hospitals are working to reduce opioid addiction and
abuse is a terrible problem in Pennsylvania and only coordinated efforts across
sectors of public and private stakeholders can increase the chance of stemming
what has become a public health epidemic. During 2014, in the state of Pennsylvania,
approximately 2,500 people died from drug overdoses, more than double the 1,200
people who died from motor vehicle accidents.
has joined the Pennsylvania Medical Society, the Pennsylvania
Department of Health, the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol
Programs (DDAP), and other stakeholders on the Safe and Effective Prescribing
Practices and Pain Management Task Force.
This task force has prepared three
guidelines for providers who regularly prescribe opiate pain medications. These
include prescribing guidelines for:
- Emergency departments
- Dental practices
- The treatment of chronic non-cancer
are now working on guidelines for geriatric patients and obstetrical patients.
task force also is collaborating on providing professional continuing education
programs for physicians, nurses, and pharmacists. This important education
supports the written prescribing guidelines and promulgates the use of naloxone
under Pennsylvania Act 139. Act 139 provides liability protections for first
responders administering life-saving opioid-reversal medication.
hospitals are assessing the impact of opioid dependency and related deaths in
the communities they serve. Many are identifying opioid abuse as a major
community health issue as they develop their most recent Community Health Needs
Emergency departments are seeing a growing number of opioid
overdoses and working closely with local emergency medical services personnel and
police on the proper use of naloxone by first responders.
the HAP Behavioral Health Task Force is evaluating Pennsylvania’s existing laws,
policies, and regulations addressing the treatment of drug abuse.
primarily rely on DDAP and county treatment and prevention programs. Better
alignment between medical and behavioral health regulations can provide better
transitions to, and adherence with, treatment services.
activity is just a start and requires sustained support and additional
resources to truly make an impact on this public health problem. HAP supports
- Implementation of Pennsylvania’s
Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions (ABC-MAP)
Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to improve safe prescribing
practices and identification of drug-seeking patients so they can receive
the proper treatment.
- Federal legislation, such as S. 480,
the National All-Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting (NASPER)
Reauthorization Act of 2015, introduced by Senators Shaheen (D-NH) and
Toomey (R-PA), could support Pennsylvania in implementing ABC-MAP. Importantly,
NASPER goes beyond providing grant support to states to establish
prescription drug monitoring programs, but also ensures interoperability
between state monitoring programs and within health information technology
- Increasing the use of naloxone, and
supporting the development and distribution of the life-saving drug, to
help reduce the number of deaths associated with prescription opioid and
heroin overdose. S. 707, the Opioid Overdose Reduction Act, would expand
important liability protections for the emergency administration of an
opioid overdose drug.
- Expanding the use of
Medication-Assisted Treatment, a comprehensive way to address the
needs of individuals, which combines the use of medication with counseling
and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders.
- Proliferating drug take-back programs,
which provide safe and efficient means to destroy prescribed pain
medications, thereby removing them from the streets.
- Assessment and evaluation of prenatal
opioid abuse and neonatal abstinence syndrome, as outlined in S. 799, the
Protecting Our Infants Act, introduced by Senators McConnell (R-KY) and
Casey (D-PA), will initiate positive steps to decrease the number of
infants suffering from opioid dependency.
conclusion, HAP and Pennsylvania hospitals are working diligently with other
stakeholders to address the epidemic of opioid abuse and overdose deaths. This
good work requires continued support and collaboration to fully make an impact
on the future health and well-being of Pennsylvanians.