Cumberland Times-News

Local News

February 10, 2013

Rehab center funding cuts

ANNAPOLIS — Drug treatment advocates and addiction counselors testified at a budget hearing Wednesday to protest a proposed $4.5 million cut to the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration budget, which they said would have a devastating impact on Maryland’s cash-strapped drug treatment programs.

Leaders of these programs told the House Appropriations Health and Human Resources Subcommittee that they provided a vital service to the state’s most vulnerable citizens and that they would be unable to serve all the drug addicts that asked for help if their funding was cut in fiscal year 2014.

Current levels of funding are insufficient already, they said, explaining that many of their organizations were on the verge of bankruptcy.

Dennis Logan, the executive director of Jude House in southern Maryland, said that his drug treatment center has already been forced to turn away patients because it could not afford to take them in, and he said that his center consistently has an “extensive waiting list,” which would only get longer if its funding were reduced.

The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration’s proposed cutbacks resulted from a 2.8 percent reduction in federal funding for substance abuse prevention and treatment. Drug treatment advocates hope to convince state lawmakers to compensate for the lack of federal funds by providing larger state subsidies for these services.

Though the subcommittee does not technically have the authority to increase the Alcohol and Drug Administration’s budget, it could potentially hold informal negotiations with Gov. Martin O’Malley to have him submit a supplemental appropriation.

Unlike Congress, the Maryland legislature does not have the power to increase spending; it can only cut O’Malley’s budget. That means only the governor can restore funding to state-subsidized rehabilitation programs.

However, the subcommittee could have substantial influence over the governor’s decision, so drug treatment advocates are determined to gain its support, and they tried their best to persuade the subcommittee to fight on their behalf.

Addiction counselors and psychiatrists told the subcommittee that the Alcohol and Drug Administration’s 2014 budget was problematic not only because of the reduction in funding, but also because of the distribution of money.

About $6.4 million of funds that were formerly reserved for residential rehabilitation programs would be revoked and approximately $5 million of that funding would be redirected to so-called “recovery support services” — the housing, employment programs and other benefits provided to recently recovered addicts. Witnesses said this reallocation of funds is impractical, since the agency’s first priority should be to convince addicts to receive treatment and stop using drugs.

“Taking $6 million from treatment means losing ... opportunities to save lives, families and communities,” said Gail Saler, director of Gaudenzia, an organization that runs drug rehabilitation centers throughout the state. Dr. Eric Strain, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, agreed. “This is illogical, it runs counter to national trends ... and most importantly, it is not in the best interest of the patient,” he said.

Del. Theodore Sophocleus, D-Anne Arundel, appeared sympathetic to these arguments, and he said that he had serious concerns about the proposed budget and its revamping of the drug treatment program. “Before we make this change, we need to make sure that we’re introducing a better system,” he said.

Frank Dobinski, the director of addictions at Healthcare for the Homeless, told the subcommittee that cutting state funding for drug treatment would be irresponsible. He said that rehabilitating drug addicts was a moral obligation that he took so seriously that he never turned away a patient despite the fact that his organization has been “in the red” for four years.

Dobinski said that it was inconceivable to reject an addict’s cries for help when they finally come to terms with the fact that they have a problem and “that they don’t want to live the life they’re living.” But Dobinski explained that organizations like his could not sustain further financial losses, and he urged legislators to consider the human cost of the cutbacks.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 43-year-old receives prison time for molesting his niece

    CUMBERLAND — A 43-year-old city man was sentenced Wednesday to a 10-year prison term for the sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl, according to the Office of the State’s Attorney for Allegany County.

    April 24, 2014

  • House of cards House of cards

    Sixth-graders James Patalinghug, left, and Nina Cutter build a multilevel tower out of index cards Tuesday afternoon at Washington Middle School. The activity was part of a science, technology, engineering, math, known as STEM, lesson designed to teach students about load distribution, friction and gravity.
     

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • CORY ORNDORFF Green Spring man sentenced to 40 years for toddler’s death

    ROMNEY, W.Va. — Hampshire County Circuit Court Judge H. Charles Carl III sentenced 22-year-old Cory A. Orndorff of Green Spring to 40 years in prison for one count of child abuse resulting in the death of an 18-month-old child Wednesday morning.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Glen Bell, a public information officer 900-acre Bear Den wildfire 70 percent contained

    CENTERVILLE, Pa. — A 900-acre wildfire on Wills Mountain in Bedford County was said Wednesday to be “the largest fire in Pennsylvania this spring season,” according to Cecile Stelter, Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry public information officer.
    The fire that was reportedly situated mostly on state game lands began Saturday at about 2 p.m., with initial firefighting efforts handled by the Cumberland Valley Township Volunteer Fire Department at Centerville.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • System to provide firefighters quick access could be required in new Mineral businesses

    KEYSER, W.Va. — The Mineral County Commission agreed to look into the possibility of implementing an ordinance that would require new commercial businesses to install a KNOX-BOX Rapid Entry System.

    April 23, 2014

  • Puff & Stuff owners agree to settlement over claims they sold synthetic drugs

    CUMBERLAND — Charles and Traci Casey, owners of Puff & Stuff stores in Cumberland and LaVale, have agreed to forfeit $173,988.61, to settle claims that they sold synthetic drugs at their stores.

    April 23, 2014

  • Mall maulers

    Chad Trail, Rick Ryan, Mike Lawrence and Rusty Pyles, Cumberland Street Department employees, work on replacing the concrete strips that run between the bricks on the Downtown Cumberland Mall between Centre and Liberty streets.

    April 23, 2014

  • CHARLES  SEVERANCE W.Va. judge orders Severance extradited to Virginia

    WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) — A man wanted for questioning in relation to three unsolved slayings in Alexandria, Va., in the past decade should be extradited to Virginia on an unrelated weapons charge, a West Virginia judge ruled Wednesday.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Keyser man faces charges in Easter incident

    KEYSER, W.Va. — Mineral County Prosecuting Attorney Jay Courrier is faced with deciding whether to charge a Keyser man with disturbing a religious worship.

    April 23, 2014

  • 43-year-old receives prison time for molesting his niece

    CUMBERLAND — A 43-year-old city man was sentenced Wednesday to a 10-year prison term for the sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl, according to the Office of the State’s Attorney for Allegany County.

    April 23, 2014

Facebook
Must Read
News related video