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Friday, October 27, 2017

Baker Joins President for Declaration of National Opioid Abuse Crisis

HARRISBURG – State Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) today joined President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, D.C., as he declared the opioid epidemic a national health emergency. Since 2000, more than 500,000 people have died as the result of opioid abuse, or about 144 people per day.

“I have always been a strong advocate in the fight against drug abuse, so I was encouraged to hear the president agree that opioid abuse has become a national health issue,” said Baker, chairman of the House Health Committee. “With this declaration, more resources will be freed up from the federal government to fight the growing opioid epidemic in our country. Those resources, coupled with what we are doing at the state level, will enable us to better attack this problem.”

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 13 Pennsylvanians are dying everyday due to an opioid or heroin overdose. In 2016, 4,812 Pennsylvanians died from an overdose of opioid drugs.

“This is clearly a problem of vast proportions. By states joining with the federal government, we have a better chance at getting individuals with addictions the help they need and attacking this threat to public health on a broader scope and in a quicker manner.”

Earlier this week, Baker co-hosted the 2017 Rural Pennsylvania Legislative Briefing on “Addressing the Challenges of Addiction in Rural Pennsylvania.” During the meeting, officials talked in depth about the opioid epidemic and its impact on the already stressed and limited services available in rural areas of the state.

Baker said the president’s declaration will help expand access to medical services in rural areas, as well as expand telemedicine services, which are of great use to less populated areas.

“Anything we can do to help those in need who are dealing with limited access to health care and other services will be of benefit,” said Baker. “Our rural communities are stretched to the limit and need additional help to aid the growing list of opioid-addicted patients.

“I am hopeful with the president’s backing, we can gain the momentum needed and drive the resources out that will be necessary to appropriately battle this health care crisis that is claiming lives of every race, gender, age and economic background across our country,” concluded Baker.

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