Key Issue: Opioid Epidemic
Governor Wolf has stated that opioid addiction is “the worst public health crisis in Pennsylvania,” and the federal government has declared it a national emergency. Pennsylvania has the eighth highest number of opioid-related deaths in the nation, and in Bucks County alone, there were 185 such deaths in 2016.
Efforts by Governor Wolf and the legislators have done a lot to fight this scourge by:
- Ensuring the opioid-reversal drug Naloxone (Narcan) is available to all residents;
- Funding drug courts so addicts are given a chance to turn their lives around instead of being condemned to a life of crime and addiction;
- Creating Centers of Excellence, which ensure comprehensive referral services for those seeking treatment; and
- Establishing a prescription drug-monitoring program to help physicians and providers monitor drug usage and cut down on the spread of opioids by prescription.
While these programs are effective and essential, we need to do more to target the causes of addiction, fight the spread of the drugs, and provide resources for abusers seeking treatment. Specifically, Helen advocates for:
- Programs that improve Social Emotional Skills in childhood
- Better control of the availability of prescription pain medications.
- Protecting and expanding Medicaid because it is the biggest treatment resource for the vast majority of addicts who do not have other medical coverage.
- Safeguarding the provisions under the Affordable Care Act that require insurers to provide substance abuse coverage.