Pa. governor declares statewide disaster for opioid epidemic
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) declared the opioid epidemic a statewide disaster emergency in an effort to bolster the state’s tools to curb the crisis.
The move aims to waive rules that create barriers to fighting the prescription painkiller and heroin epidemic and the first initiatives are centered on three areas: improving coordination and data collection; increasing access to tools that help families and first responders; and boosting access to treatment.
“I am taking this step to protect Pennsylvanians from this looming public health crisis, and I am using every tool at my disposal to get those suffering from substance use disorders into treatment, save more lives, and improve response coordination,” Wolf said.
The move is a first of its kind for Pennsylvania, which has one of the highest rates of drug overdoses in the country.
Several other states — such as Massachusetts and Alaska — have taken similar measures aimed at curbing the increasing number of opioid overdose deaths plaguing the nation.
President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency in late October, which was something that had never before been done for a drug epidemic. Typically, the declaration is reserved for shorter-term issues, such as disease outbreaks.
Democrats and advocates have been pushing for more federal funding to combat the opioid crisis. Trump’s emergency declaration didn’t free up much federal funding nor did it include an ask to Congress.
New Hampshire’s Democratic senators are pushing for a larger funding agreement for $25 billion to fight the crisis over two years.
Pennsylvania’s disaster declaration doesn’t include new funding, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
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