Governor Wolf Renews Opioid Disaster Declaration

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Last week, Gov. Tom Wolf held a press conference where he announced the renewal of a 90-day heroin and opioid disaster declaration that he originally issued in January. The use of this declaration has allowed for an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to opioid abuse, with the elimination of red tape that would otherwise slow down the ability to combat the crisis.

The renewal of the declaration comes at the same time that the PA Chamber is urging House lawmakers to pass S.B. 936, legislation that would help to mitigate the impact of this crisis as it relates to injured workers. The bill – which would implement a prescription drug formulary for workers’ compensation – could be brought up for a reconsideration vote as early as this month. Prescription drug formularies in WC have been effective in states around the country, which have experienced significant reductions in the number of opioid-dependent injured workers following implementation. This session, the PA Chamber has led a diverse coalition in support of the bill and has coordinated around 20 communications to lawmakers in support of the measure – 11 this year alone. Senate Bill 936 has also been the subject of several recent PA Chamber-authored letters to the editor;and we are traveling to editorial boards across the state to explain the benefits of this legislation and address misinformation disseminated by opponents of the bill, whose leaders appear to have a clear conflict of interest.

When the governor first announced the emergency declaration early this year, PA Chamber President Gene Barr issued a statement which pointed out that S.B. 936 is a critical piece of the overall strategy to combat opioid and prescription drug abuse and addiction among the injured worker population. “We fully support the governor and legislature’s bipartisan efforts to combat the opioid crisis that has touched every corner of the Commonwealth … Part of this strategy should be addressing the overuse and abuse of prescription drugs among injured workers by passing S.B. 936,” Barr said. “With the opioid crisis having officially reached emergency status, the time is now for Pennsylvania to adopt this important measure.”

The Columbia Montour Chamber is in favor of this legislation and was part of a coalition of several Chambers and other groups that sent a letter to legislators last year urging passage of this bill.