State Seeks Flexibility in Federal Opioid Funding

In testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Washington D.C. during the week of January 19, Jennifer Smith, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs, shared how federal funding has helped Pennsylvania have an impact on the opioid crisis.  She credited the contribution of $230 million in federal funding combined with state and local resources and the expansion of Medicaid with supporting an 18% drop in the state’s overdose deaths in 2018.  She also shared that a rise in stimulant use challenged the state in 2019 and the state was bound, in many cases, by drug-specific federal grants that couldn’t be shifted to address issues related to drugs like meth and cocaine. She urged shifting of funding to block grants to give states increased flexibility to address additional substances. Ms. Smith joined state officials from West Virginia, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Rhode Island in sharing how their governments have used federal funds earmarked to fight the opioid epidemic.