PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It’s been called “taxes for taxis.”
The program uses your tax dollars to give recovering addicts rides to methadone clinics.
However, new legislation could radically alter the way the program works and save taxpayers millions of dollars.
If passed, the new law could potentially save taxpayers more than $40 million.
Drastic cuts in methadone treatment funding would give users of the program a choice to get clean or pay for treatment themselves.
KDKA Investigator Marty Griffin discovered one man whose taxi-rides to and from a methadone clinic cost taxpayers roughly $40,000 a year and he has no problem with it.
The truth is that nearly 20,000 methadone users cost taxpayers more than $80 million a year for transportation and for the drug for as long as needed.
“Give these people an incentive to get off and get on with their lives. Leaving them on forever does not help anyone,” Pa. Sen. Kim Ward said.
Sen. Ward has two bills: one that would limit state paid methadone treatment to 30 months and state paid taxis and other transportation to four weeks.
“At some point, these people need to take responsibility for themselves. So, you give them a month. Thats it. Find your own way. We cant pay for this anymore,” Sen. Ward said.
Some call the recommendations drastic and heartless.
Others, say cut the programs today because they don’t work.
“My sister was addicted to heroin since she was 16. My husband got addicted to it when he was young and they’re both dead because of it,” a woman named Tracy said.
For now, the taxis keep rolling along with the vans and buses. The cost to taxpayers this year is pushing $40 million.
The two bills introduced by Sen. Ward have already picked up a significant amount of support in Harrisburg.