Addiction Aid Sought – General Wants Money Restored To State Budget
The Patriot News
By Charles Thompson
The drug and alcohol treatment community rolled some heavy artillery into Harrisburg yesterday to press its case for more money in the 2005-06 budget.
Barry R. McCaffrey, a retired four-star general and the one-time commander of U.S. armed forces in Latin America, pushed for an $8 million increase for the state Department of Health’s Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Programs.
From 1996 through 2001, McCaffrey served as the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control and Policy. He met with legislative leaders and Gov. Ed Rendell.
In his 2005-06 budget proposal, Rendell has proposed a cut of $2.9 million in the Health Department’s addiction treatment services, from $41.6 million to $38.7 million.
McCaffrey argued drug treatment funding should be a top priority in Pennsylvania’s upcoming budget discussions, because every untreated addict is at risk of becoming “a one-person crime wave.”
“They’re a disaster for their families, for their employers and their communities, and help is available.”
According to the Health Department, 630,000 Pennsylvanians needed some form of drug and alcohol treatment last year. Only 86,908 persons received it.
Treatment providers have joined with the Rendell administration’s Insurance Department in an aggressive effort to compel insurance companies to cover physician-referred treatment costs for all persons covered by group insurance plans.
Advocates complain that many private insurers have been skirting state mandates to pay for such treatment. Providers are pushing for $46.6 million in aid for the fiscal year beginning July 1 to help cut waiting lists for treatment programs. That increase won’t come close to filling the gap, said Mark Sarneso, executive director of White Deer Run, one of the state’s largest treatment providers, and the sponsor of McCaffrey’s Capitol tour.
But the money is critical to help county drug and alcohol services treat more addicts, rather than putting them on a waiting list.
Sarneso said that the opportunity for treating an addict may be lost if a client is forced to wait for service.
“Heroin addicts, generally, don’t wait very well,” he said.
McCaffrey likened the war on drugs to the war on terrorism, saying that both are long-term campaigns.
“When you see something that you don’t like about America — be it kids dropping out of school, spousal abuse, high incarceration rates — one of the leading causes of whatever problem you’re talking about is chronic abuse of alcohol or drugs,” McCaffrey said.
“We’ve got to get our treatment systems big enough to start adequately addressing the problem.”
June 16, 2005: Substance Abuse Provider Marks Anniversary
By Alyssa Keens
In their own words, administrators and state representatives gathered in Harrisburg Wednesday to “celebrate.”
“I think it’s important for us to identify the successes we’ve had at putting people’s lives back together,” said Mark Sarneso, executive director of the White Deer Run/Cove Forge Behavioral Health System.
Those who gathered, including officials from Franklin County, did so to mark the 35th anniversary of White Deer Run, Pennsylvania’s largest substance abuse treatment provider, and to hear an address by Gen. Barry McCaffrey calling for more financial support for White Deer Run and similar programs.
“We all have more work to do to end the dreaded impact of drug and alcohol addiction on crime, education, jobs and families,” he said.
White Deer Run has 20 facilities in 16 Pennsylvania counties, including five inpatient sites, two half-way houses and 12 outpatient programs. The Chambersburg site, at 38 Black Ave., is an outpatient facility.
“We are the largest drug and alcohol treatment system in the state. We strive every day to be the best drug and alcohol treatment system in the state,” said Sarneso.
McCaffrey was the country’s longest serving National Drug Policy czar under former President Bill Clinton, and is a West Point national security professor.
Joining Sarneso and McCaffrey were representatives of drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers in Pennsylvania, including Crystal Myers, director of business development for Roxbury Rehabilitation, a local rehab center.
“We work very closely with White Deer Run as far as referring patients back and forth with each other and getting the word out about treatment,” she said. “We’re serving similar people, and like they were saying, there are a lot more people out there in need of treatment than those who are receiving treatment. There are so many people who are in need of treatment.”
Roxbury Rehabilitation is owned by Universal Health Service Inc. and provides inpatient services at its main location in Shippensburg, where it treats addictions and handles behavioral health problems. Roxbury also has two satellite facilities, in Chambersburg and Carlisle, where it provides outpatient services.
“It’s definitely a service that’s needed,” Myers said. “There’s more need out there than we can meet.”
During his speech, McCaffrey called for more money, about $8 million, to be set aside to try to reach the millions of Americans who need drug and alcohol treatment who are unable to because of funding shortfalls.
“We work very closely with the county and the state. We do what we can with the funding available,” said Myers, agreeing that more funding would allow for the treatment of those who need it.
According to McCaffrey, 19 million people need treatment, compared to the 3 million who are able to obtain it. In Pennsylvania alone, 70,000 people obtain treatment while 630,000 people need that treatment.
“We all have friends, family or work colleagues impacted by drugs,” he said.
McCaffrey also talked about the need to educate adolescents about the dangers of drugs and alcohol for early prevention.
“If you want to fight a war on drugs, sit down around your kitchen tables,” McCaffrey said. “We have to mentor and educate adolescents, or they will encounter drugs and like them.”
McCaffrey said eighth graders smoking marijuana and binge-drinking beer are the greatest threat to America.