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Human Services Secretary Discusses Opioid Crisis and Social Determinants of Health at Annual Magellan Conference

Lancaster, PA - Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today addressed participants at Magellan Health’s Leading Humanity to Healthy, Vibrant Lives conference in Lancaster. The conference, in partnership with Capital Blue Cross, focused on discussing solutions to address the opioid epidemic and other population health concerns.


“The prescription opioid and heroin epidemic presents one of the largest public health crises that Pennsylvania and the nation have ever faced, and collaboration is necessary to ensure that we are all using the best practices and evidence-based treatment methods that will show those who are suffering that they can live in recovery,” said Miller.


Hosted by Magellan Health, the two-day conference highlighted innovative ways stakeholders and providers across Pennsylvania’s health landscape are addressing the opioid crisis and social determinants of health. Topics discussed included best practices with a warm hand-off from emergency department treatment for an overdose to a drug treatment program, technology-enabled population health approaches to addiction care, medication-assisted treatment, and the evolution of the opioid crisis.


“As I meet with health care providers, stakeholders, and people my department serves, I often hear that health care exists in silos. At any time, we can see multiple doctors for different health problems, but are we addressing these health issues on their own or through a comprehensive plan of care? When a person has a substance use disorder, that adds another layer that must be considered in coordination with other existing health needs,” said Miller. “We cannot just treat a substance use disorder, mental health concerns, or physical health needs on their own – in many cases, they are interconnected or treatment of one can affect how to best treat another.”


The Wolf Administration has taken steps to make comprehensive, whole-person care available across the commonwealth in its efforts to fight the opioid epidemic. In 2016, Governor Wolf provided funding to 20 Centers of Excellence (COEs) across the Commonwealth, tasked with using funding to expand services to at least 300 new patients. There are currently 45 COEs in Pennsylvania that provide team-based and whole-person-focused treatment with a goal of integrating substance use disorder treatment, behavioral health, and primary care. The centers’ care managers work to keep people with opioid use disorder engaged in treatment by coordinating follow-up care and community supports that are vital to maintaining recovery.


COEs work as a hub-and-spoke network, with the designated center serving as the hub. The spokes can include primary care practices, the criminal justice system, emergency departments, social services providers, other treatment providers, and other referral sources.


Prior to these centers, as few as 48 percent of Medicaid patients diagnosed with opioid use disorder were receiving treatment. Of those, only 33 percent remained engaged in treatment for more than 30 days. Today, more than 70 percent receive treatment after being diagnosed with an opioid use disorder and 62 percent remain in treatment for more than 30 days.


Additionally, funding from the federal 21st Century Cures Act was used to establish seven Pennsylvania Coordinated Medication-Assisted Treatment (PAC-MAT) sites around the commonwealth. The PAC-MAT hub-and-spoke model has an addiction specialist physician at the center as the hub, providing expert guidance and support to primary care physicians in rural and underserved areas of the commonwealth who serve as the spokes. The primary care physicians provide the direct-patient care, including the medication-assisted treatment prescription. Patients are also connected to drug and alcohol counseling in their communities.


PAC-MAT sites were established at Temple University, UPMC Pinnacle, the Wright Center, Allegheny Health Network, Geisinger Clinic, WellSpan Health, and through a collaboration between Penn State Health and Pinnacle.


For more information on the state’s efforts to battle the opioid epidemic, visit


If you or a loved one need treatment for a substance use disorder, free help is available 24/7 at 1-800-662-HELP.


MEDIA CONTACT: Colin Day - 717.425.7606

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