February 16, 2022
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania hosted a hearing today examining strategies to combat opioid addiction and the overdose crisis in rural communities.
This morning, state agency officials, treatment and prevention providers, and public health specialists discussed the challenges facing Pennsylvania communities to treat patients with substance use disorders and to reduce overdose deaths. The testimony included the latest trends in medication-assisted treatment (MAT), telehealth, and other initiatives to address the crisis.
Real-time access to treatment is critical, said Dr. Michael Lynch, medical director of the Pittsburgh Poison Center and UPMC Health Plan Substance Use Disorder Services. New delivery models are focused on directing patients to resources and making it easier for them to receive treatment.
“We need to be able to connect patients to ongoing care,” Dr. Lynch said.
The testimony addressed the following key themes:
To become permanent, many pandemic-era telehealth flexibilities would need extension at the federal level, said Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jennifer Smith. Waivers at the state level and establishing a payment structure for telehealth are important next steps.
HAP and Pennsylvania’s hospitals are committed to bolstering Pennsylvania’s behavioral health system and care for patients with substance use disorders.
Through the HAP Opioid Learning Action Network, HAP has worked with Pennsylvania’s behavioral health community to identify, create, and disseminate promising practices to increase the number of patients entering evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorder and to reduce overdose deaths.
More information about today’s hearing is available online.
Tags: Workforce | Public Health | Substance Use Disorder | Regulatory Advocacy | Rural Health Care | Behavioral Health
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