Governor Tom Wolf today announced that Pennsylvania, through its Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, has been awarded a $5.7 million Medication-Assisted Treatment Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction (MAT-PDOA) grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help in the state’s ongoing fight against the opioid epidemic.
The grant, a funding opportunity made available by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will help the state expand or enhance its access to evidence-based medically assisted treatment services.
“The misuse of prescription pain relievers containing opioids and the use of illicit drugs such as heroin have created an ongoing and pervasive epidemic in Pennsylvania and across the country,” Gov. Wolf said. “We are working every day in Pennsylvania to get people suffering from substance abuse disorder the treatment they need. This grant will go a long way to help in those sustained efforts.”
Overdose deaths from heroin and prescription drug abuse pose a public health crisis. In 2016, 4,642 drug-related overdose deaths were reported in Pennsylvania – an increase of 37 percent from 2015 – and every day 13 Pennsylvanians die of a drug overdose.
“Pennsylvania continues to battle the heroin and opioid crisis head-on and this grant will allow us to drastically expand access to Medication-Assisted Treatment, resulting in the ability for Pennsylvania to treat a much larger number of individuals suffering from substance use disorder,” said Acting DDAP Secretary Jennifer Smith. “At a time when we are losing a growing number of Pennsylvanians each day to overdoses, increasing access to care remains a significant priority of the Wolf Administration.”
Governor Wolf has made fighting the heroin and opioid epidemic a top priority of his administration and efforts to date, while making a difference, are not enough to end this scourge.
“We applaud Governor Wolf’s commitment to tackling this devastating problem that is affecting so many of our fellow Pennsylvania citizens,” Steven D. Shapiro, MD, Executive Vice President, UPMC and Chief Medical & Scientific Officer. “His support in funding programs enable UPMC’s health care providers to truly make a difference in the lives of our patients who are suffering from this devastating crisis.”
The MAT-PDOA grant will be administered jointly by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs through UPMC and will follow a “hub-and-spoke” model of service delivery, focusing on Allegheny County as the hub and Blair, Erie, and Lycoming counties as the spokes.
“While the initial program focuses on western Pennsylvania, our goal is to expand access to this coordinated medication-assisted treatment model for patients suffering from the disease of opioid addiction throughout the state,” Dr. Rachel Levine, Acting Health Secretary and Physician General, said.
In addition to the $5.7 million grant, Pennsylvania will soon award four, $1 million federal PA Coordinated MAT grants to providers in Pennsylvania via the 21st Century CURES grant funding. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded Pennsylvania a $26.5 million grant, which was funded by the 21st Century Cures Act, signed into law by President Obama in December 2016. Over the next two years the grant is to help combat the heroin and opioid epidemic in all 50 states. Pennsylvania received the fourth-largest grant award, behind California, Texas, and Florida.
Governor Wolf’s commitment to battling the heroin and opioid epidemic has resulted in numerous programs and initiatives that are making a difference. In addition to significant funding for treatment, the toll-free helpline has received more than 15,500 calls since introduced by the Wolf Administration 10 months ago, and is providing personal help to individuals suffering from addiction – and to their families and friends – by directing them to immediate help. Anyone with a drug or alcohol problem can call the toll-free statewide helpline at 1-800-662-HELP, to talk to a person and get immediate assistance to enter treatment.