Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced that $24,846,000 in federal funding was secured for the Poison Control Program in the bipartisan FY 2021 appropriations package. Gillibrand originally called for $30.1 million to support the nation’s network of 55 poison control center, however the appropriated funding is a $2 million increase from FY20. As public health and addiction support services operate on thin margins, these increased federal funds are necessary to continue providing life-saving health care services in every state. During public health emergencies, poison control centers serve as first responders to prevent injuries, help reduce poisoning-related health care costs, and save countless lives.
“For over 50 years, the Poison Control Program has been our nation’s top defense against injuries, unintentional poisonings, and deaths from poisoning,” said Senator Gillibrand. “In addition to saving countless lives, this funding is a smart economic investment and will save $1.8 billion annually in medical costs. As the pandemic has exacerbated our country’s addiction and drug poisoning crisis and has placed a severe financial strain on health services, this program is needed now more than ever to keep our communities safe.”
The Poison Control Program, authorized by the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), is available to the general public and health care providers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The program supports 55 Poison Control Centers (PCCs) that utilize their network’s information and data capabilities to manage public health emergencies including COVID-19, Ebola, and the Zika virus. Additionally, Poison Control Centers have a database and network that are uniquely positioned to help address the growing opioid crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted addiction support services across the country, which were overburdened before the pandemic, making poison control services more critical now than ever.
The services provided by poison control centers lower treatment and medical costs by reducing ER visits, hospital stay time, and work-loss days each year. Every dollar invested in the poison control center system saves $13.39 in medical cost and lost productivity, for a total savings of more than $1.8 billion every year. The Poison Control Program also provides critical surveillance and real-time data to federal, state, and local agencies, including the CDC and Food and Drug Administration.
Gillibrand has long championed poison control prevention efforts such as the Safe Chemicals Act and she recently secured $15.5 million in federal funding to reduce lead hazards in nearly 900 households across New York State. Senator Gillibrand also urged the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to host prevention and treatment forums to educate Americans on the harmful consequences of opioid use and risk of poisoning.
The full text of Gillibrand’s letter may be found here.