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Lt. Governor and Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to Hold Williamsport Public Hearing on Thursday Examining Availability and Access to Addiction Treatment

10/25/2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 25, 2016
 
Lt. Governor and Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to Hold Williamsport Public Hearing on Thursday Examining Availability and Access to Addiction Treatment
 
Harrisburg, PA – A public hearing Thursday in Williamsport will be the fifth in a series of statewide hearings by public officials examining enforcement of statutes aimed at ensuring availability and access to clinically appropriate treatment for addictions. The hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the presentation room of the Student and Administrative Services Center at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, 990 Hagan Way, Williamsport, 17701.
Members of the public are invited to testify after those scheduled to testify have finished. Parents and other loved ones of those who are suffering or have suffered with addiction are particularly encouraged to testify.
The statewide public hearings include several public officials and other representatives of a task force charged by the state House of Representatives to review the compliance of state laws, regulations and agreements around treatment for drug addiction. 
“Pennsylvania is in the midst of the worst opioid epidemic in all of history,” said DDAP Secretary Gary Tennis. “It’s absolutely critical that we help people fighting the disease of addiction quickly find the treatment they need.
“In 2015, more than 3,500 people in Pennsylvania died of drug overdose,” said Tennis. “The best way to reverse the tide of overdose deaths is to end the barriers to and provide treatment at whatever level and length of care is necessary to help those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction achieve the rich, full lives of recovery.”
“Individual people have powerful stories and experiences,” said Lt. Governor Mike Stack. ”When someone discusses what they and their families had to go through to get drug and alcohol addiction treatment it’s such a powerful snapshot into a confusing and frustrating process.
 
Pennsylvania, said Tennis, has enacted several laws to provide treatment to those suffering from SUD, but often these laws are not followed. These include:
·        Act 106 that entitles individuals covered under many group insurance plans in Pennsylvania to coverage for intervention services, clinically appropriate alcohol and drug addiction and treatment for the family, all as ordered treatment, with the level of care and length of stay, by the patient’s licensed physician or licensed psychologist. 
·        Act 152 that requires state Medicaid to provide coverage for the full continuum of treatment, including but not limited to intervention services, non-hospital detoxification, outpatient, rehabilitation, and halfway houses in the continuum of covered addiction treatment services, including the clinically appropriate length of stay in residential treatment, as determined by the Pennsylvania Client Placement Criteria
·        The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act that requires health insurance carriers offer behavioral health and substance use disorder benefits to achieve coverage parity between those benefits and medical/surgical benefits
“This is a disease like any other disease,” said Tennis, “and we need to aggressively identify ways to help those suffering from addiction get into treatment.”
“These hearings give the HR 590 Task Force a snapshot of the helplessness that sometimes confronts people with addictions.  The process needs to be better, more user friendly, and much easier to navigate,” said Lt. Governor Stack.
                                                                  
MEDIA CONTACT: DDAP: Carol Gifford, 717-547-3314 or cagifford@pa.gov
                             Lt. Gov.: Gary Tuma, W-717-787-3300, C-717-798-0082 or gtuma@pa.gov
 
 
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