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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: April 20, 2023 05:00 PM
From: Senator Christine M. Tartaglione and Sen. Jimmy Dillon, Sen. John I. Kane
To: All Senate members
Subject: Improving Pennsylvania's Drug and Alcohol Addiction Recovery System
In the near future, we will be introducing a legislative package aimed at revamping Pennsylvania’s drug and alcohol addiction recovery system.

In 2021, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pennsylvania held the 9th-highest drug overdose mortality rate in the country, registering 43.2 overdose deaths per 100,000 people. Across the nation, the ever-increasing presence of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl has driven a surge in fatal overdoses, claiming the lives of nearly 200,000 Americans in 2020 and 2021. And while the continuing spread of naloxone treatment has thankfully saved many lives, we must do better at both preventing and helping people to recover from addiction.
Pennsylvania’s drug and alcohol addiction treatment associations are essential partners in the process of recovery and, as part of the broader strategy to curb addiction across the state, we must guarantee greater support for their work and provide pathways for those struggling with addiction to utilize their services. Accordingly, our legislative package includes provisions that will:
  • Increase recruitment and retention within the recovery workforce;
  • Strengthen the referral link between health care professionals at the point of care and drug and alcohol addiction treatment associations;
  • Assure that purchasers of insurance are able to access coverage for addiction treatment already included in their health plan; and
  • Improve data collection and public transparency by requiring insurers to report on the provision of drug and alcohol addiction treatment.
The Drug and Alcohol Service Providers Organization of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Recovery Organizations Alliance support each of the four proposals outlined below.

Please join us in supporting Pennsylvanians recovering from drug and alcohol addiction and the organizations guiding their recovery by co-sponsoring this vital legislative package.  

Document #1

Introduced as SB875

Description: The first bill addresses the recovery workforce shortage by requiring the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) to ensure that private certification bodies maintain transparent, reasonable, and attainable certification practices for current and aspiring recovery workers. Specifically, this bill aims to fix areas of the certification and training approval processes that are costly and unreasonable to the effect that they prevent recovery professionals from obtaining the necessary credentials to practice.

Document #2

Introduced as SB876

Description: The second bill requires that doctors and nurses, as a condition of license renewal, complete a continuing education program designed to develop skills in identifying the early warning signs of alcohol and other drug addiction, referring patients to addiction treatment associations and other support groups, and utilization of DDAP’s warm handoff procedures.

Document #3

Introduced as SB879

Description: The third requires insurers to certify that they are in compliance with the Federal Mental Health Parity & Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) through certification by an officer of the insurer.  Currently, attestation to the Insurance Department can be made by any representative of an insurer and only requires “efforts to comply” with MHPAEA be attested to rather than actual compliance. Additionally, attestation of compliance currently applies only to policy forms and documents, not to compliance with the actual delivery of services or handling of claims.

Document #4

Introduced as SB878

Description: The fourth bill provides for standardized reporting by insurers on the provision of alcohol and other drug addiction treatment with copies of the report submitted to the General Assembly and made available to the public.  The reports would include data such as: numbers treated, numbers in each level of care, average lengths of stay, denials, and other adverse benefit determinations.