Nearly two months since Gov. Tom Wolf declared Pennsylvania’s opioid epidemic a “statewide disaster emergency,” fund paucity and more budgetary provision to deal with the drug menace remain a key electoral issue for the upcoming special election to fill former Congressman Tim Murphy’s seat in the 18th District. While Gov. Wolf’s declaration allowed the state to override a lot of existing regulations to address the opioid crisis, the state continues to execute the very measures to combat the opioid menace.
It is expected to be a tight contest between Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone, with the latter using opioid epidemic as a major poll pitch for the March 13 election. However, an old video of Saccone has suddenly surfaced which puts the Republican representative in a bad picture owing to his purported apathetic approach to the mother of an opioid addiction patient.
Reportedly shared by pro-Democratic research group American Bridge, which in its own words is “committed to holding Republicans accountable for their words and actions,” the video was apparently shot last year when the addiction patient’s mother testified before the Pennsylvania lawmakers. Though Rep. Saccone said he wanted to help, he also said that the government could only do so much, as it must make tough budgeting decisions.
“People are in my office all day long, I’m sure it’s the same with all my colleagues here, you know, we need more funding, we need more funding… We don’t have any more funding, okay? We are going to try to cut the budget. So, where do I take it from,” Saccone purportedly asks the woman. “Do I take it from the autistic children,” he questions, adding, “You don’t have to answer that right now, but just think about it.”
Given the increasing number of overdose cases in the state, it’s not unusual to see the state representatives cry fund shortage. However, according to Lamb, the government has to play a leading role in addressing the crisis. The former federal prosecutor felt that the present opioid situation requires a “big government solution” that would involve the entire society – from faith leaders to police officers to educators as well as parents. As per him, only the government can build treatment facilities, fill them with beds and qualified staff and can provide health insurance programs to support those people.
In a recent statewide development against the opioid crisis, Gov. Wolf announced an initiative to remove the barriers that people face while receiving medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder (OUD). The announcement sees a waiver of prior authorization requirements for evidence-based opioid use disorder treatments. When combined with counseling and behavioral therapies, the FDA-approved MAT is a proven strategy for reducing addiction relapse and improve chances of recovery.
Pennsylvania was listed fourth in terms of the drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2016. Moreover, as per the state’s Department of Health (DOH), it has already received 113 reports of babies born with opioid withdrawal symptoms. According to Dr. Rachel Levine, the acting secretary of DOH, given that the state’s rate of drug overdoses has been twice the national average in 2016, the goal of reversing the trend will take some time. She added that while the command center established by the state has worked exactly as planned, there is still a lot more to be done.
If you know someone battling an addiction to opioids, it’s time to get these individuals professional help and treatment. At the 24/7 Recovery Helpline, we can help you learn more about addiction, identify the symptoms and get connected to the best of treatment providers.
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