(Washington, DC) – Former White House Drug Czar, General Barry R. McCaffrey, asserts that Pennsylvania’s proposed budget cuts of 40% for drug treatment “will devastate frightened families.”
McCaffrey, a retired four-star general who was Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy from 1995-2001, is urging Pennsylvania Governor Rendell and Pennsylvania Senate and House leaders “to restore” $68 million in treatment dollars currently targeted for elimination, which includes total deletion of several key programs. McCaffrey asserts that “an estimated 17,000 of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens” would be hurt by the funding cutback. He contends that the cuts “will surely accelerate health costs and crime.”
McCaffrey wrote a letter today to Governor Rendell, and sent copies to Senate Majority Leader David Brightbill, Senate Minority Leader Robert Mellow, House Majority Leader John Perzel, and House Minority Leader William DeWeese.
The text of the letter follows:
7 March 2003
The Honorable Edward G. Rendell
Governor, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Dear Governor Rendell,
Please add my voice to those already urging you to restore funding for addiction treatment in the following lines of the Pennsylvania state budget: Behavioral Health Services Initiative, Act 152, Intergovernmental Transfer and Intermediate Punishment. I’ve learned that additional remedy may be needed to avoid reductions in provision of this critical component of health care through Medical Assistance, and urge you to consider this critical concern as well.
The effects of the recession in Pennsylvania are doubtlessly extremely painful. Nonetheless, any reductions in support of the treatment of addictive diseases will surely accelerate health care costs and crime across the Commonwealth. Both research and experience have taught us that addiction treatment is a wise investment. The research is overwhelming: every dollar spent on treatment saves a minimum of seven dollars in other health care, as well as in the reduction of crime.
As Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, I became convinced that no serious national or state effort to reduce drug abuse will succeed without addiction treatment as a major component. Without access to treatment of sufficient intensity and duration, our best efforts to reduce supply will certainly fall short.
For this reason, we worked tirelessly at ONDCP to increase funding for addiction treatment. After leaving ONDCP, I continued this interest by joining the Board of Directors for CRC Health Corporation – an addiction treatment corporation with superb facilities in your state. (White Deer Run/Cove Forge)
Today, review of Pennsylvania’s proposed spending plan for treatment compels me to write. The budget proposal currently before you will eliminate over $68 million for treatment of an estimated 17,000 of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens, and will further devastate their desperate, frightened families.
Governor Rendell – this is our most important domestic struggle. With one in four families facing addiction and chronic substance abuse, it is the battle we wage in our homes and hearts. It is a struggle for the lives of our nation’s children.
Respectfully, I urge you to restore treatment dollars in the budget.
Barry R. McCaffrey
General, USA (Ret.)