HARRISBURG – The state Senate Health and Welfare Committee today unanimously approved a proposal by state Senator Judy Schwank (D-Berks) calling for a broad study of addiction treatment concerns in Pennsylvania.
The proposal now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
“The sharp increases in heroin and opioid abuse in recent years here and across the country have really revealed the great need for a more coordinated understanding of and approach to dealing with addiction,” Schwank said following the committee’s approval. “Our work to fight this growing crisis has been earnest, but it remains too fragmented.
“Having a task force focus on the problem will allow us to identify necessary changes that we hope can make a huge difference for the many families who are facing the impact and challenges of addiction.”
Under Schwank’s resolution, SR 267, which has broad bi-partisan support of a majority of the Senate, the task force would be created under the Joint State Government Commission, which is a research agency of the General Assembly.
The task force would:
- Count the locations and types of treatment programs
- Assess the need for additional treatment resources
- Determine the ease and availability of access by Pennsylvania residents to effective treatment
- Examine the prevalence and practical impact of using private or public funding or health insurance coverage to pay for treatment
- Decide how to better help consumers determine the effectiveness and value of different types of treatment and programs, and
- Propose how to nurture promising emerging types of treatment and best practices.
Representatives from the departments of Corrections, Drug and Alcohol Programs, Education, Health, Human Services, Insurance, the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, hospitals, treatment providers, medical professionals, recovering former users, family members of users, and other appropriate groups will serve on the task force.
The advisory task force would be required to deliver its report within 18 months.