Gainey: HOPE Caucus discusses policy options with stakeholders

HARRISBURG, May 25 – State Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Allegheny, and co-chairmen from the other three caucuses in Harrisburg held its 2017 kick-off meeting this week for the PA HOPE Caucus.

The PA HOPE Caucus, which stands for Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education, is a bipartisan, bicameral group of state lawmakers who have focused their attention on the prescription drug crisis that is affecting people and communities across Pennsylvania.

The other chairmen of the caucus include Republican state Rep. Aaron Kaufer and Democrat and Republican state Sens. Jay Costa and Gene Yaw, respectively.

The meeting featured panelists giving an overview of their organization’s concerns and policy issues, followed by a round-table discussion among the participants.

Participants were:

  • Dr. Rachel Levine, physician general, PA Department of Health

  • Laura Conrad, deputy secretary, Legislative Affairs, PA Department of Drugs & Alcohol

  • Susan Shanaman, legal counsel, PA Coroners Association

  • Deb Beck, president, Drug & Alcohol Service Providers Organization of PA

  • Marianna Horowitz, program coordinator, PA Recovery Organizations Alliance (PRO-A)

  • Kristen Varner, director of training & advocacy and Denise Holden, CEO, RASE Project

  • Donald Holman, parent advocate.

“The discussion was a sobering event,” Gainey said. “So many people and families are affected by this scourge, and so much of the explosive growth of the opioid addiction crisis began under the care and guidance of health care professionals for pain management. Last year we took big steps toward controlling the use of opioids by limiting the amount that can be prescribed in an E.R. and creating an opioid medication list, but we must also keep working to prevent illegal drugs, like heroin, from being so readily available and so cheap.

“The availability of Naloxone, now carried by many first responders and available to any Pennsylvanian at most pharmacies thanks to an official standing order, has helped prevent a number of overdose deaths, but we must also continue to care for those victims with medical intervention.

“The leaders of the HOPE Caucus will continue to work together to find viable legislative solutions to this crisis.”

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