Public Hearing Testimony held on March 16, 2015

The following is Peter D'Souza's complete statement in response to the proposed methadone clinic bill.

We need to expand treatment in Anne Arundel County in the wake of the Heroin Overdose Epidemic in our State as suggested by our County Executive and the Governor. The archaic IMD Exclusion Medicaid Law prohibits inpatient programs from treating more than 16 patients. So Hope House, Crownsville has 49 beds currently reduced to 16 beds for treatment. The County Executive's Office together with our Health Officer, the State Addiction Authority and Medicaid is working with us to restructure our program.

As a follow-up of the continuum of care, we were planning to open an Outpatient Center along Route 2 where the patients can access public transportation. However, there are private houses immediately behind or near the commercial areas. We were specifically looking at Arundel Office Center, 9403 Aquahart Rd. on the corner of Aquahart Rd. and Route 2, and 7503 Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd on the corner of Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd and Route 2. Both these places are close to bus stops but also close to houses. So, the distinction made by this bill to locate treatment centers in commercial areas but not close to houses does not play out in reality.

We should be more scared of people in our neighborhood who are not receiving any type of treatment rather than those that are on the road to recovery. The Federal Parity Law states that we should treat addiction on par like any other disease. But in practice we are not treating it like any other disease. We do not put these conditions to open a Diabetes Center.

Because of the high potency of the drugs available together with Fentanyl, the lack of support systems, the low cost of drugs and prescribed medications, we need the support of medication like Suboxone to help stabilize and together with counseling help the patient to fully recover.

We need to educate our citizens about the efficacy of treatment rather than threaten the lives of treatment providers and their families. This should not happen in a civilized society. Treatment works because there are thousands of people in our county recovering from addiction, especially heroin. The County needs to partner with treatment providers to ultimately overpower the heroin overdose epidemic rather than unintentionally erect barriers to treatment.