HARRISBURG – Legislation seeking to block the consolidation of the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) into the Department of Health and Human Services was introduced today, according to state Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), prime sponsor of the measure.
Legislation already proposed and supported by Governor Tom Wolf consolidates the Departments of Aging, Health and Human Services, as well as DDAP, into a new, single Department of Health and Human Services.
Senator Yaw opposes the inclusion of DDAP in the merger. According to Yaw, DDAP merits its own Department and should be the Governor’s number one priority.
“Since the Governor announced the proposed merger, there have been no proactive efforts to stem the opioid problem in Pennsylvania,” Sen. Yaw said. “Someone needs to be in charge of Pennsylvania’s growing drug problem. Last year, drug overdose deaths rose by 37 percent, sending the 2016 death toll to a record high. Now is not the time to bury DDAP on the third level of an administrative behemoth.”
DDAP came into existence in July 2012 as the result of legislation enacted in 2010. This department was previously under the Department of Health but changed to a separate operation for a single purpose—to focus on drug and alcohol issues.
“Whether by luck or tremendous insight, the legislature created the Department at precisely the right time in the history of the heroin epidemic. The agency was put in place at a time when Pennsylvania was moving to the top of the list of states experiencing this growing epidemic,” Yaw added.
A June 8th announcement by the Drug Enforcement Administration Philadelphia Field Division announced that 4,642 drug-related overdose deaths were reported by coroners and medical examiners in Pennsylvania for 2016. Approximately 13 people died of a drug-related overdose each day. The DEA will be releasing its Analysis of Drug-Related Overdose Deaths in Pennsylvania 2016 report in early July.
Yaw’s bill, Senate Bill 828, will be referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee for consideration.
Rita Zielonis, Chief of Staff