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Wolf Wants To Increase Funding For Counties To Fight Opioid Addiction

Gov. Tom Wolf says he wants to increase the amount of funding given to Pennsylvania counties to fight the opioid epidemic.

State legislators approved multiple bills targeting opioid restrictions among the flurry of final pre-election activity. While Governor Tom Wolf said the four bills restricting opioid analgesic prescribing and improving doctor education shows that progress is being made, he said that “by no means are we across the finish line.”

Despite the fact that the opioid addiction crisis is worsening, Allegheny County Human Services Director Marc Cherna told WESA in August that the county is getting more than $1 million less this year than it did in 2009-10 to battle addiction. Wolf said he would like to see the state's counties get increased funding to fight opioid addiction.

“I hope we will have the political will to appropriate the money,” Wolf said. “I think one of the things that brings Republicans and Democrats together is that in a treatment center we can treat a patient with substance abuse disorder at one-seventh the cost of imprisoning that person. We have too many people in prison right now that really ought to be in treatment.”  

Wolf said smart public policy would support more treatment centers. He plans to call for more funding in his next budget, not only for treatment centers, but also to educate medical school students in the state.

“I think there’s more that we can do to convince deans in medical schools to make their curriculum more robust when it comes to teaching their medical students about what to look for when a patient of theirs might show signs of substance abuse disorder,” Wolf said. “I think we still have work to do to overcome the stigma (associated with substance abuse)."

But Wolf said he sees positive signs in the recent progress that has been made in the legislature.

“I think the legislature, everybody that I talk to, really understands that this is a tragic thing for Pennsylvania,” Wolf said. “It’s wasting lives, wasting families, destroying our economy in many ways. We’ve really got to confront this fully and look at it as the disease that it is.”

WESA will be surveying Pennsylvania candidates for federal and state office for the 2022 general election — tell us which issues are most important to you.