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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: March 26, 2021 04:16 PM
From: Senator Michele Brooks and Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione, Sen. Joe Pittman, Sen. Scott E. Hutchinson
To: All Senate members
Subject: Halting New Department of Drug & Alcohol Program (DDAP) Requirements
In the near future, we will be introducing legislation prohibiting the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) from imposing administrative changes to licensed drug and alcohol facilities until no earlier than March 2022.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, licensed addiction treatment programs have scrambled to adjust programming to protect patients and staff while continuing to provide life-saving treatment. Important safety measures put in place to keep patients and staff safe, such as purchasing PPE and testing equipment and hiring additional staff, have greatly increased operating costs for these facilities. Additionally, facilities have been forced to reduce their capacity and admissions to adhere to social distancing requirements, thus resulting in significant revenue losses since the start of the pandemic.

Altogether, programs are drowning in a sea of unanticipated costs and expenses, yet DDAP is choosing to move forward with federal recommendations that would, as of July 1, 2021, change the staffing requirements and qualifications in these facilities. Adhering to these requirements is estimated to cost an additional $17,000 per counselor and $8,400 per physician. To date, an estimated 30 licensed addiction treatment programs, including both outpatient and residential programs, have already been forced to close in the last year.

Our legislation would also require DDAP to submit any such proposals to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC), which is standard procedure for requirements and policies that financially impact businesses and the public.

Pennsylvania’s licensed addiction treatment programs annually treat more than 70,000 people with multiple drug and alcohol addictions. As mentioned in the journal BMC Medicine, this number is likely to rise after the COVID-19 pandemic due to increased emotional and economic distress. This year’s overdose death rate is on pace to exceed the Commonwealth’s highest annual overdose death toll – 5,456 in 2017. Now is not the time to create unnecessary barriers to operating treatment programs and retaining staff.

Please join us in co-sponsoring this important legislation.