New PA Task Force Created To Help Opiate-Dependent Infants

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) – According to the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality, over 20,000 babies are born each year dependent on illegal or prescription drugs. 








The type of opiate withdrawal that occurs in infants and children as a result is known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).

Last week, Pennsylvania lawmakers passed House bill 253 which provides $225 million to the frontline health care workforce.









“It’s a comprehensive approach, a bipartisan approach, and as the Governor indicated, it demonstrates what we can do when we work together and put our heads together for something that needs to be addressed,” said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny).

Both sides of the aisle calling the legislation a major win.















“This is a great bill and a great example of what we can do when we’re all together,” said Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland).

HB 253, now Act 2 of 2022, provides more than just the $225 million to the health care workforce. It also creates the Opioid Abuse Child Impact Task Force.

“House bill 253 was specifically designed for supporting and helping kids who have been, under no choice of their own, born with addiction,” said HB 253 sponsor, Representative Clint Owlett (R-Bradford).

Owlett first introduced the bill a few years ago to help babies exposed to addictive opiate drugs while in utero, who then suffer from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.

NAS can cause body shakes, trouble sleeping, breathing problems, poor feeding and more.

“There are some challenging days early on. There’re some things that we can do in Pennsylvania to help,” said Owlett.

After serving as a vehicle for much needed health care relief, Owlett’s bill is now law.

“We had worked it through the House and the Senate last session and this session, in session before last session, it would get across the finish line as a vehicle here this week to be able to also, in conjunction with supporting kids, also being able to support our hospitals,” said Owlett.

Owlett says the task force will consist of lawmakers, addiction professionals, the Department of Human Services (DHS), and more.

He also says the task force will begin working as soon as next month.

 

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