Do You Know Your Legislators?
The most important action you can take to be an advocate for prevention is to get to know your legislators and let them know what you and your local prevention groups are doing.
The following is a brief history of legislation that impacts the field of Prevention.
PA Medical Marijuana (2017)
The Pennsylvania Department of Health began the process of implementing the state’s Medical Marijuana Program when Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 3 into law on April 17, 2016. The implementation of the program is expected to take between 18 and 24 months and, when completed, will offer medical marijuana to patients who are under a physician’s care for the treatment of a serious medical condition.
21st Century Cures Act (December, 2016)
Authorized $6.3 billion in funding, mostly for the National Institutes of health. Included the Helping Families In Mental Health Crisis Act, a landmark mental health reform bill which will increase the availability of psychiatric hospital beds, establish a new assistant secretary for mental health and substance use disorders in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and boost treatment for young mental health patients.
Act 139 (2014)
Also known as the Good Samaritan Act, Act 139 of 2014 allows first responders, including law enforcement, fire fighters, EMS or other organizations the ability to administer a medication known as naloxone, a life-saving opioid-overdose antidote. The law also allows individuals such as friends or family members who might be in a position to help a person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose to obtain a prescription for naloxone. Additionally, Act 139 provides immunity from prosecution for those responding to and reporting overdoses.
Establishment of the the PA Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (2010)
In July 2012, the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), formerly under the Department of Health, became a department. This change reflects a strong commitment by the Commonwealth to provide education, intervention and treatment programs to reduce the drug and alcohol abuse and dependency for all Pennsylvanians.
The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs mission is to engage, coordinate and lead the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s effort to prevent and reduce drug, alcohol and gambling addiction and abuse; and to promote recovery, thereby reducing the human and economic impact of the disease.
Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (2008)
The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) is a federal law that requires the same health insurance coverage for mental health and/or substance use disorder (MH/SUD) conditions as patients would receive for coverage of medical/surgical (M/S) services. This law was adopted into Pennsylvania law in 2010. Historically, health care coverage for MH/SUD treatment was not the same as coverage for M/S conditions. For example, if coverage for mental health services was provided, often there were limits on the number of visits and higher out-of-pocket costs than the same coverage for medical and surgical services. The MHPAEA changed this requirement. Parity (which means equal or fair treatment) requires insurance companies to administer MH/SUD benefits in the same way as they administer M/S benefits: both the quantitative limits, such as the visit limits or deductibles, as well as the qualitative limits, such as prior authorization requirements and network criteria, must be parallel.
Act 211 (1990)
Section 4 of this bill, titled the Alcohol, Chemical, and Tobacco Abuse Program requires all schools in Pennsylvania to provide K-12th grade prevention/education programs, including intervention and referral. This law expanded the previous version from 1986 to:
- ensure that education is provided every year kindergarden through 12th grade
- develop comprehensive curriculum guidelines to ensure the instruction was age-appropriate and includes tobacco and improper use of legal drugs
- require training of relevant school personnel