Jun. 01, 2015

HARRISBURG – To help fight back against the epidemic of opioid-based overdoses and deaths in Pennsylvania, Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks) has successfully inserted an amendment into the 2015-16 state budget for additional funding for an emergency treatment program.

“Today’s consideration of amendments is another step in the process to enact the budget for the next fiscal year, which starts in just a few weeks,” said DiGirolamo, chairman of the House Human Services Committee. “Ultimately, the final product may be somewhat different than the version we’re looking at today, but the adoption of this amendment sends a clear and strong message in the House that we care about the epidemic of opioid-based overdoses in communities all across Pennsylvania, and we’re committed to doing something about it.”

The amendment DiGirolamo proposed would set aside $20 million to establish an Emergency Addiction Treatment Fund in the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to ensure statewide availability of needed treatment services for those addicted to heroin, opiates, prescription medication and other related drugs. All counties will be able to use this emergency fund.

DiGirolamo said the need is paramount, as 2,489 Pennsylvanians died as a result of drug overdoses in 2014, a 20 percent increase over 2013 and an average of seven people dying each day. The lawmaker pointed out that a statewide solution is necessary, as deaths reach all four corners of the state.

The Pennsylvania State Coroners Association reported overdose deaths in 54 of the state’s 67 counties, including 205 in Bucks County, 60 deaths in Erie County, 303 deaths in Allegheny County and 120 deaths in York County. Even smaller, rural counties like Mercer and Butler reported overdose deaths in the double digits.

“Last year, we enacted major legislation and took other steps to address the overdose epidemic including enactment of the prescription drug monitoring law and legislation ensuring the availability of Narcan to first responders and families,” DiGirolamo continued. “While these laws are being implemented, we now need to move on and ensure that addiction treatment programs have funding sufficient to address this burgeoning emergency.”

Nearly 1.1 million Pennsylvania residents are in need of addiction treatment, with only 52,302 actually receiving services.

Representative Gene DiGirolamo
18th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton
GeneDiGirolamo.com / Facebook.com/GeneDiGirolamo