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Human Services Committee OKs DPW Funding, Prescription Drug Monitoring Bills, DiGirolamo Reports
2/12/2013
HARRISBURG – Two pieces of legislation that will further help those who are in need of state services or who have prescription drug addictions were advanced today by the House Human Services Committee, said chairman Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks), who also sponsored the proposals.

House Bill 315 seeks to restore $84 million in state funding that was cut from the 2012-13 state budget.

“This cut, of about 10 percent, is severely impacting services for people with mental illness, intellectual disabilities and addictions,” DiGirolamo said. “With state revenues over estimate for the year, thus far, I believe not only we can afford to supplement this funding, but we owe it to those who suffered some of the most far-reaching budget reductions. We are also hearing about layoffs, closings and the resulting loss of services for people who need them so badly. Families are scrambling to find alternative arrangements for their loved ones. As a result, Funding for these services must be a priority.”

This legislation will return the line items to their funding levels from the 2011-12 fiscal year and would add funding to the line items for mental health services, intellectual disabilities/community-based programs, county child welfare services, behavioral health services, homeless assistance, the Human Services Development Fund, and Medical Assistance outpatient care.

The committee also endorsed House Bill 317, which would create a database, to be managed by the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, to enable informed and responsible prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances and to reduce diversion and misuse of the drugs of concern. The intent of the bill is to pinpoint the potential for abuse and misuse of prescription drugs, namely those that are highly addictive controlled substances like pain relievers.

“During the last session, our committee held two informative public hearings on this legislation, and we heard from many witnesses including physicians and other health care professionals, law enforcement, addiction treatment experts, pharmacies and families who have lost loved ones to prescription drug overdoses,” DiGirolamo said. “The need for this legislation came through loud and clear.”

The prescription drug problem has been described by the Office of Drug Control Policy as the nations’ fastest growing drug problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2007, there were four times as many prescription drug overdose deaths as heroin overdoses deaths and twice as many as cocaine overdose deaths.

DiGirolamo said that prescription monitoring programs – like the one he is proposing -- serve multiple functions including law enforcement, prevention and intervention. They improve patient care and prescribing practices, help uncover drug diversion, identify “doctor shopping” and will provide training of health care professionals in prevention, identification of drug problems and referral when appropriate.

Both bills now move to the full House for consideration.

Representative Gene DiGirolamo
18th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton
717.705.2094
jkeaton@pahousegop.com
www.GeneDiGirolamo.com / www.Facebook.com/GeneDiGirolamo
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