Senate Panel Approves Bill to Make Drug Treatment More Accessible in Rural Areas

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee today unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Senator Pat Stefano (R-32) that would make drug treatment options more accessible to individuals in rural areas of Pennsylvania.

Stefano said Senate Bill 1089 is intended to eliminate the disparity in access standards for substance abuse center services that now exists between urban and rural areas

Currently, the access standard for out-patient and residential services is 30 minutes of travel time in urban areas, compared to 60 minutes travel time in rural areas, requiring rural residents to travel a greater distance.

“Statistics from around the country clearly show that the farther a person needs to travel to obtain treatment, the less likely he or she is to maintain that treatment regime,” Stefano said.  “This proposed legislation would standardize the travel time standard to 30 minutes for out-patient treatment for both urban and rural areas, where treatment centers are available.”

Stefano said the governor’s recent declaration of the opioid crisis as a statewide disaster emergency illustrates how crucial it is to ensure that residents in rural areas have access to life-saving treatment, close to home.

“It is clear that this statewide problem needs to have a statewide approach in order to find a solution,” Stefano said. “In the midst of this epidemic, it is vital that there is a uniform standard among substance abuse centers, as well as more accessibility to these centers so we can save lives and help folks on the road to recovery.”