by Elizabeth Lurwick
Pennsylvania is currently in the midst of being at its worst healthcare crisis in our lifetime. With an unsolved opioid abuse epidemic and over 2,500 drug overdose deaths in 2014 and the number expected to have increased in 2015, PA needs a solution. Governor Wolf has proposed to help the epidemic in the 2016-17 budget. He has proposed funding in the budget to provide more than $34 million to help treat over 11,250 new individuals with opioid addiction.
In the first part of the implementation there will be 25 new Health Homes to help treat and assist those individuals with substance use disorder. In the second phase there will be another 25 health homes implemented. Health Homes allow for coordinated care and treatment to help provide supports to those facing substance use disorders as well as other co occuring disorders.
Without the support and push for these funded resources individuals with addiction are in jeopardy. Unless we have new revenues, the state will have no choice but to cut education and human services which will have a direct effect on drug and alcohol programs. Any cuts to drug and alcohol programs right now will further PA’s opioid epidemic. We have already seen first-hand the impact of not having adequate funding.
We believe that Governor Wolf’s budget is an important step in protecting the health and well-being of Pennsylvanians. We can no longer afford solutions that kick the can down the road at the expense of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable tax payers.
Elizabeth Lurwick is an outreach and enrollment specialist at PHAN.