Cumberland Times-News

Local News

February 10, 2013

Treatment advocates protest $4.5M cut to centers

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.

Delegate 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.

Text Only
Local News
  •  Easter grass Easter grass

    Kamryn Rice, 7, of Flintstone, finds and bags a plastic egg during Cumberland’s annual Easter Egg Hunt Saturday afternoon at Constitution Park. Hosted by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, along with students from Frostburg State University’s Recreation and Parks Management program and the 4-H Youth of Allegany County, the afternoon also included games, relay races, face painting, temporary tattoos, arts and crafts, and a petting zoo sponsored by the 4-H Hare Raiser Club, as well as a visit from the Easter Bunny. The eggs contained candy and other treats.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Business community wary of minimum wage increases

    CUMBERLAND — Allegany County businesses are certain to be impacted by the increase in Maryland’s minimum wage, set to reach $10.10 an hour by July 2018 under a law championed by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

    April 20, 2014

  • Tipped workers left behind in pay hike action

    ANNAPOLIS — Many minimum wage workers will be getting a raise now that a hike to Maryland’s wage has been signed into law. But while advocates are ascribing the increase as a win, there’s a bitter aftertaste for one group that was left behind.

    April 20, 2014

  • Views vary among Americans when it comes to hourly rate

    CUMBERLAND — Even among those who have worked minimum wage jobs, views on the minimum wage can differ.
    “Minimum wage has to exist. There is no question there, so whatever it is, it will be called ‘minimum wage’. But it should not be below a living wage,” said Bonita Quick of Cumberland.

    April 20, 2014

  • Income guideline change will increase WIC recipients

    KEYSER, W.Va. — Raised income eligibility guidelines for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children will increase the number of those served in West Virginia by about 10 percent, according to the state health officer.

    April 20, 2014

  • Absentee ballots moving online causes security concerns

    ANNAPOLIS — Voters may get to skip the lines at the polls this summer by receiving and marking their ballots online, but election officials must first decide if the convenience outweighs the security risks.

    April 20, 2014

  • Allegany County emergency medical services honorees and supporters Allegany, Garrett emergency responders honored

    MCHENRY — The 75 people from Allegany and Garrett counties who were involved with two exceptional emergency medical services calls in 2013 were presented with awards at the recent Night for Stars program held at the Wisp Resort.

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Lexis Trickett meets with Gov. Martin O’Malley Ninth-grader among 30 at inaugural event

    OAKLAND — Lexis Trickett, a ninth-grade student at Southern Garrett High School, was among 30 girls who attended Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Leadership Forum for Women and Girls recently in Annapolis in celebration of Women’s History Month.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • School immunization requirements change

    CUMBERLAND — Changes to school immunization requirements by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene affect students entering kindergarten and seventh grade for the next school year.

    April 20, 2014

  • Easter experience Easter experience

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

Must Read
News related video
Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military