Saying Pennsylvania is facing a "public health crisis," Gov. Wolf on Wednesday said he hoped the state could find ways to add to the $20 million that the legislature has appropriated for 20 special facilities for the treatment of people addicted to opioids.
Appearing in Norristown outside the Montgomery County Methadone Center, recently named one of 20 "Centers of Excellence," Wolf and Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas said they hoped the initiative would reduce addiction in communities such as Norristown, where drug violations occur at nearly double the Montgomery County rate, according to state figures.
"I am thrilled that by working with Republicans and Democrats, we have achieved this level of funding for our fight against this public health crisis," Wolf said.
The Philadelphia division of the Drug Enforcement Administration reported in July that nearly 3,400 Pennsylvanians died of a drug overdose in 2015, an increase of nearly 23 percent from the previous year.
Collectively, the centers will receive $15 million in state funds and $5 million in matching federal funds.
Both Wolf and Dallas said the centers would help ensure that people who go into detox receive care and counseling afterward. Roughly 80 percent of people who go to the emergency room for an overdose receive no follow-up care, and as a result, many relapse.
The centers, six of which are in the Philadelphia region, are expected to be fully operational by the end of October.
Wolf originally had requested $34 million from the Assembly for the program, and for now, he said, the administration would try to make the most of the available money.
"The secretary is working with his staff to figure out if we can do more with that $20 million," he said. "We have a lot to do."