Health Care and Opioids

One basic tenet underpins the efforts of the Senate Democrats on health care policy: health care is a human right.

Whether it’s battling drug and alcohol addiction, treating mental health issues, addressing permanent, chronic, and high-risk health problems, or simply helping a sick child, we all confront circumstances that require health care throughout our lives. Providing insurance, access to safe hospitals and services, and ensuring equitable opportunities to receive care are at the heart of the Senate Democrats agenda.

Legislation I’m Working On

Senate Bill 633 − Public Health Emergency Declarations

This legislation will provide the Department of Health the ability to declare public health emergencies in the case of several types of events. The declaration would last 90 days, unless extended by the Secretary of the Department of Health.

Currently, the Governor has declared a disaster emergency to provide state government and public health providers with additional tools to fight the opioid epidemic. However, a public health emergency declaration would be better suited for this crisis.

Senate Bill 50 − Protecting Pre-Existing Conditions

While Governor Wolf has announced that as long as he is Governor he will not seek a waiver from the federal Government, we believe this legislation is important in order to prevent any future Governor from seeking a waiver that would allow insurance coverage that does not cover preexisting conditions be sold through Pennsylvania’s ACA marketplace. Our legislation would accomplish this by amending the Insurance Company Law to prohibit health insurance companies from denying or excluding coverage based on an individual’s preexisting medical conditions.

Senate Bill 51 − Protecting Essential Health Benefits

Under our proposal, the ten essential health benefits (EHB) currently covered by the ACA would be placed into state law. The benefits our legislation would cover includes: ambulatory patient services; emergency services; hospitalization; maternity and newborn care; mental health and substance use disorder services including behavioral health treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices; laboratory services; preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management; and pediatric services, including oral and vision care.

Senator Costa and the Senate Democrats championed expansion of PACE and PACENET to provide additional prescription drug coverage to thousands more seniors in the nation’s premier prescription drug plan. And they Supported efforts to expand CHIP health insurance to all children in Pennsylvania.

Women and minorities have access to high quality, affordable healthcare – it must be provided to all, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, disability, age, or sexuality. For too long, health care has not been equitably available to women and minorities. Insurance and hospital access has been denied, too expensive, or not covered necessary services in the past. The Senate Democrats will fight to ensure everyone has equal access in the future.

We are also in the midst of a crisis on opioid addiction.

State Senator Jay Costa has been leading the effort to stem the terrible impact of this crisis for years. As the co-chair of the PA HOPE caucus (the Pennsylvania Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education Caucus) he has been working to implement new legislative and administrative policies to combat the escalating crisis.

What Senator Costa & the Senate Democrats have done:

Made naloxone available to all Pennsylvanians and state money to first responders and law enforcement to gain access to additional supplies.

Redesigned the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to reduce doctor-shopping, combat pill mills, and remove non-addictive drugs from the registry.

Expanded and worked to protect Medicaid – helping over 125,000 people get treatment.

Created ten sets of prescribing guidelines to assist health care professionals.

Established 45 centers of excellence treatment programs that will allow nearly 11,000 Pennsylvanians to receive care.

Worked with Pennsylvania’s medical schools to create new curricula on opioids.

Expanded the drug-take back program to 700 boxes, destroying 300,000 pounds of drugs.

Started a hotline help line to connect individuals seeking treatment.

Limited the number of opioids that can be prescribed to a minor or ER patient.

Began regulating and certifying recovery houses to ensure patients are receiving appropriate care.

Created a childhood education program to instruct students on the dangers of opioids and heroin.

Provided $2 million to expand specialty drug courts.

Enacted a best-in-the-country medical marijuana law to combat many medical conditions. Among them are chronic pain and other conditions that are typically be treated with opioids. According to one study, between 2000 and 2010, opioid-related fatalities and reductions in treatment admissions in states with medical marijuana dispensaries declined by about 20 percent.

What we are trying to do:

Provide families with a process to seek mandatory treatment for their loved ones facing addiction. Senator Costa has introduced Senate Bill 391 and is working closely with Governor Wolf to pass the bill.

Allow hospice and home health workers to dispose of opioid medications following a patient’s death

Look to the pharmaceutical industry to be part of solutions to addiction, including an assessment on the wholesale import of opioids to fund addiction treatment programs.

Limit opioid prescriptions for all individuals to 7-day supplies.

Expand the number of beds and personnel available for treatment.

Latest News

Costa Bill on Public Health Emergencies Advances in the Senate

Costa Bill on Public Health Emergencies Advances in the Senate

Pittsburgh, Pa. − May 22, 2018 − The Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted unanimously in support of Senate Bill 1001, Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, Jr.‘s legislation that will allow the Department of Health to declare public health emergencies. The...

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Capitol Rally to Focus on Fight Against Opioid Abuse

Harrisburg – February 16, 2017 – Committed to the fight against opioid addiction, State Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) today introduced legislation that would provide support to families seeking emergency treatment for loved ones. “Families are suffering – it’s as...

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