Forward Observer — Getting the Right Treatment

Newly Formed Department Steps In

LVMAC Poster Art 2005Earlier this year, the relatively new Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) stepped in and righted a wrong over a matter of significance to those veterans who struggle with alcohol or drug use. Its action should not go unnoticed, for it has a deep impact on the way business has been done in the past.

Effective 1 January 2016, according to one of its policy bulletins1, veterans are now considered a priority population for treatment in Pennsylvania. They can no longer be denied access to those county drug and alcohol services offered to other citizens of the commonwealth, as had been occurring.

No more can counties shuffle off veterans onto the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) without regard to whether or not they qualified for VA services. No more are veterans to be referred to the VA whether or not the appropriate services are available. Veterans now have the option to use the same services available to others. “The SCA2 cannot deny funding to a veteran regardless of the veteran’s eligibility status for Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits”, says the revised treatment manual.3

When a veteran is referred to a VA facility, the SCA or its provider must now do a ‘warm hand-off’ and ensure the veteran actually got to the VA as planned. Finally, “… Case management services may continue to be provided while the veteran is in the VA facility, at the discretion of the SCA …”

All of this is good news because it is important to saving lives or expediting recovery. Therefore, the new department, under the leadership of Secretary Gary Tennis, is to be commended for intervening. We would also like to thank Treatment Trends, Inc., one of our member organizations, for originally raising the issue to state government (as best we know).

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1 – DDAP Policy Bulletin 15-02, dated 30 December 2016.

2 – Single County Authority (SCA): regional contractors selected by the state who are responsible for program planning and the administration of federal and state-funded grants agreements and contracts regarding drug, alcohol and mental health programs. County departments of human services are the gateway to the use of their services.

3 – DDAP Treatment Manual, 2015-2020, dated 17 July 2015, revised January 2016, Sec. 6.05.

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RJH
26 February 2016

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