Leaders in the Pennsylvania Senate want residents to participate in an upcoming Telephone Town Hall about the opioid and heroin crisis facing the state.
The telephone town hall is on Wednesday, September 21st, at 6:30 p.m., and it will take place at the state’s Capitol in Harrisburg. Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34) and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati are asking residents of Pennsylvania to take part in the Telephone Town Hall so they can learn more about how to fight the drug problem facing the state. There will be four more Telephone Town Halls within the next several months.
If you would like to be a part of the Telephone Town Hall, you can sign up at www.acommonwealthcrisis.com. You can also sign up simply by texting the word “talkheroin” to 828282. Once signed up, you will get a phone call just prior to the start of the Telephone Town Hall. Audio from the Telephone Town Hall will be streamed online as well.
Senator Scarnati issued the following statement ahead of the Telephone Town Hall, “Our state legislators, law enforcement officials, public health agencies and educators are working to combat drug availability, improve drug treatment and promote drug education, but they need help and feedback… This event provides a unique opportunity for state residents to join in the conversation about this crisis facing our Commonwealth.”
Senator Gene Yaw (R-23) is hosting the event. He is the chair of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is bicameral and bipartisan General Assembly research agency. There will also be special guests and experts at the event. The guests include the following: District Attorney Shane Scanlon of Lackawanna County; Center for Rural Pennsylvania Director Barry Denk; and President & CEO of Mazzitti Counseling Services, Inc. Andrew Sullivan. Mazzitti Counseling Services, Inc is a Pyramid Healthcare member. Questions regarding addiction and what actions are being taken to reduce addiction will be answered at the event.
In 2015 alone, there were almost 3,400 deaths related to drug overdoses in Pennsylvania. That is an increase of over 23.8% since 2014. In about four out of five of the deaths, heroin or one or more opioids were reported.
In a prior vote in 2016, the General Assembly included $15 million in Pennsylvania’s budget in order to fight the opioid and heroin addiction in the state. The funds will also be used for behavioral health services and emergency addiction treatment. What’s more, the funding will be used to open Centers of Excellence, or addiction treatment centers. Pennsylvania can also use $5.4 million more in federal funding, so there will be $20.4 million total in funding for the state’s fight against drug addiction.