Harrisburg − State Sen. John N. Wozniak issued the following statement in support of a legislative package designed to combat opioid abuse. The initiative was unveiled by Senate Democrats at a news conference today at the state Capitol.
“Opioid abuse is the gateway to heroin addiction and a prescription for personal, family and community devastation. We need to address the opioid crisis and drug overdoses and abuse on multiple levels. The Senate Democratic plan would open doors for additional treatment, increase education for students and provide loan forgiveness for those who need training to deal with drug abuse and drug overdoses.”
The package includes:
- Emergency Addiction Treatment Program – Requires the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to establish a comprehensive program that includes new addiction treatment facilities for drug users who are going without care; new intake methods to provide information to those with addiction problems or their family and friends; advice and assistance in accessing treatment; and data collection to help identify patterns of addiction.
- School Aged Children Opioid Awareness Education Program – Requires the departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs, Health, and Education to work cooperatively to design an opioid awareness education program for schools.
- Addiction Treatment Professional Loan Forgiveness Program – Requires the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) to develop an addiction treatment professional loan forgiveness program.
- Opioid Addiction Prevention and Treatment Assessment – Imposes a 10 percent assessment on the first sale of an opioid drug into the state. Revenues from the assessment would be used to support the purchase of naloxone for local law enforcement and emergency management personnel. The money would also be used to fund addiction prevention and treatment programs.
Wozniak, who serves as vice-chair of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, has participated in multiple statewide hearings on the crisis that have been convened by the center. In addition, he joined with Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) in sponsoring legislation to limit discharge prescriptions by emergency room providers and increase continuing medical education for doctors licensed to prescribe opioids.