Drug & Alcohol

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On Friday, leaders of the Senate Finance Committee reached an agreement on a 2-year extension and more than doubling the current program by adding 11 additional states to the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic Medicaid program. This agreement was announced by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), the two lead negotiators on a year-end package of health care bills.

While this is an exciting development, there is still work ahead before this legislative package becomes law. The package must still be voted on by both the House and Senate before going to President Trump for his signature.

The National Council thanks its dedicated advocates for their work in building nationwide support for CCBHCs. Your voices have been heard!

Please see below for a statement on today’s announcement from National Council President and CEO Chuck Ingoglia.

“We applaud the members of Congress who worked so hard on this agreement to fund and expand our nation’s Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics. Extending and expanding this successful program is vitally important to people who rely on the mental health and addiction services provided by CCBHCs. It’s crucial that the delivery of care not suffer from disruption, and this agreement would ensure programs and services continue uninterrupted.

“Just as importantly, expanding the program means more people in more states will benefit from access to high quality care provided by CCBHCs. In a nation reeling from an opioid and suicide crisis, that is welcome news. While the mental health and addiction crisis continue to devastate the lives of people across the country, CCBHCs represent our nation’s best response. Expansion of the program is both a fiscally responsible decision and a compassionate response from lawmakers who understand the impact CCBHCs provide in communities across the country. Expansion represents a profound opportunity to help people and heal communities.

“We understand there are many hurdles to overcome before this agreement to provide funding and expand the CCBHC program becomes a reality, but we want to applaud the leadership of those responsible for championing the CCBHC program – Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Representatives Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.).

“We also want to thank our partners in the field who joined forces with us in this shared mission. The National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health America, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, the National Association for Behavioral Healthcare and many others have served as leaders in championing this vital program.”

As we approach the conclusion of the Governor’s Council on Reform public comment period on December 16, 2019, RCPA would like to ensure that each member has the materials for providing their public comments, feedback, and support. RCPA will be submitting commentary within each policy director’s purview, and we strongly urge your agency to submit your thoughts to the Council, including areas and issues that may not be represented in the current recommendations.

If you would like to send your submissions to your respective policy director for inclusion in the RCPA public comment, please have them submitted by close of business on Wednesday December 11, 2019.

Below you will find the links to important documents relating to the Council on Reform, including the Public Comment Submission Form. If you have further questions, please contact your respective RCPA Policy Director.

  1. Governor’s Executive Order
  2. November 1 Press Release
  3. Recommendation Document
  4. Public Comment Form

Thank you for your efforts and partnership to bring these recommendations to the forefront of your work.

HB 137, Rep. Quinn
This bill is intended to compel individuals who overdose to obtain a screening and referral for addiction treatment by making immunity from prosecution contingent upon their doing so within 30 days of receiving emergency services for the overdose.

Contact (phone or email):
Hon. Stan Saylor
Chair, House Appropriations Committee

Hon. Matthew Bradford
Democratic Chair, House Appropriations Committee

Please review the members of the House Appropriations Committee – if you live or operate a program in the district of any of these members, please contact that member as well.

When: By December 16, 2019

Why: HB 137 has significant potential to have serious unintended consequences that may ultimately result in deaths, avoidance or delay of medical care, and overburdening an already stressed system of care for Pennsylvanians struggling with the disease of addiction.

Talking points:

  • Ask the Committee Chairs and any other committee members to VOTE NO when HB 137 comes before the committee
  • Many people who are actively using drugs have a deep distrust of emergency responders and fear of being arrested and prosecuted for drug related crimes, despite the passage of “David’s Law.” Word-of-mouth accounts of inconsistencies by police and prosecutors maintain this fear and are a barrier to contacting emergency assistance, even during an overdose.

If passed, this bill is very likely to exacerbate these fears and further inhibit or delay calls for assistance in a life and death situation when seconds count.

  • For individuals who are not yet ready or contemplating beginning treatment, mandating treatment is ineffective and may deter them from seeking help in the future.
  • Many providers of drug & alcohol treatment are working near or at capacity, particularly for patients whose care is paid for with public dollars. This bill will increase the demand for treatment providers to spend time and dollars on evaluations for people who are not ready or interested in treatment. This essentially deters resources from people who are actively seeking care.
  • From the bill, it is also unclear whether an individual would still be prosecuted if their screening does not indicate a referral for treatment, or if they receive a referral but do not enter treatment.
  • We share the concern for the health and wellbeing of Pennsylvanians who are overdose survivors and consider them a priority population. We also recognize that people who suffer from the disease of addiction may require a variety of kinds of engagements with helping professionals before deciding to enter treatment. Each of the commonwealth’s 47 Single County Authorities has a warm hand-off policy that involves emergency personnel, physical and psychiatric health services, Certified Recovery Specialists, primary care, and pain management physicians, as appropriate, to engage this vulnerable population in a variety of ways.
  • We know that the decision to enter treatment that leads to sustained recovery cannot be legislated.

Questions, contact Kristen Houser, RCPA Director of Drug & Alcohol Division, or Jack Phillips, RCPA Director of Government Affairs.

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The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) is accepting applications from SCAs who shall expand or create a collaborative between local law enforcement, treatment professionals, and recovery support providers to establish a diversion program. Active and engaged relationships with the local District Attorney, identified local police departments, Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) treatment providers, and Certified Recovery Specialists (CRS) shall be foundational to such an initiative. Rather than experiencing legal consequences for an OUD, individuals shall receive treatment and support services for the underlying cause of the arrest.

Reminder: Questions can be submitted via email through tomorrow, November 20, 2019 by 5:00 pm. Applications are due by December 5.