DiGirolamo Announces Plan to Expand the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, Not Submerge It
|Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, chairman of the House Human Services Committee, said at a Capitol news conference today that the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs should remain a cabinet-level agency in Pennsylvania and recommended several ways to consolidate programs and services from other agencies into the department. Joining him was Rep. Tom Murt (R-Montgomery/Philadelphia).
HARRISBURG – In an effort to help streamline government operations so that more people can be helped and taxpayers get the most effective use of their tax dollars, Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks) today outlined his proposal to maintain and strengthen the cabinet-level Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.
“Drug abuse prevention, education and treatment cross over into so many difference state agencies, and it makes perfect sense to better coordinate all of their activities in order to achieve a better delivery of services and save money,” DiGirolamo said, noting that more than 3,800 Pennsylvanians died of drug and alcohol overdoses in 2015. “DDAP was created with the sole mission of elevating drug and alcohol programs to a cabinet level where they would get the attention they deserve. The last thing we should be doing is re-submerging the cabinet level agency into a bureau under a still larger bureaucracy.”
The cabinet-level Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs was established with overwhelming support of the General Assembly in 2012 to bring focus, visibility, coordination and muscular leadership to the alcohol and drug problem across the state. Since its inception, the agency has been highly successful in addressing these goals in ways that would not have been possible as a bureau. It was previously a bureau within the Department of Health.
To view DiGirolamo’s comments after the press conference, visit here
DiGirolamo, chairman of the House Human Services Committee, will be introducing legislation in the near future that would strengthen DDAP by consolidating alcohol and drug services from other state agencies into the Cabinet level agency. Drug and alcohol programs and services in other agencies are under review with the goal of consolidating all into a streamlined focus.
Some of the drug and alcohol services under consideration for consolidation include:
• Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse – Department of Human Services.
• Safe Schools Office (which provides support for kindergarten through 12th-grade drug and alcohol abuse prevention/education and student assistance programs) – Department of Education.
• Prescription Drug Monitoring Program – Department of Health.
• Centers of Excellence – Department of Human Services.
• Medical Marijuana Program – Department of Health.
DiGirolamo outlined his proposal at a Capitol news conference on Tuesday and in response to the governor’s plan to consolidate four state agencies – including DDAP – into one Department of Health and Human Services.
“I fully expect that if these four agencies are combined into one massive agency, drug and alcohol will once again get lost in the maze of governmental bureaucracy at a time when people need access to these life-saving services,” DiGirolamo said. “Let’s take the parts of the puzzle that work and bring them together so that we strengthen this vital department, not eliminate it.
“My ultimate goal has always been better coordinating services, and streamlining the programs available to help those with addiction issues,” DiGirolamo added. “Demolishing this department to relegate it to a bureau would wipe out all of the progress we’ve made in fighting this opioid and heroin epidemic. Drug and alcohol abuse kills thousands of people each year, whether through accidental overdoses, drug misuse or DUI collisions, and we need to ensure we have enough resources available to help those who need help the most.”
The legislation is expected to be introduced in the near future.
Representative Gene DiGirolamo
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton