‘Free’ Ride Program To Methadone Clinics May Change

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.

RELATED LINKS

More Local News
More Reports From Marty Griffin
State Sen. Kim Ward’s Website
Pennsylvania Senate

Comments

One Comment

  1. Thomas J Duttine says:

    “Give these people an incentive to get off and get on with their lives” We should do the same with WELFARE!!

    1. Pam Newmeyer says:

      No you want to get you you do it for your self not because some program is free. Its up to you to get clean not the goverment.

  2. anonymous says:

    Also, she would have been dead by now without the methadone. I’m sure of it.

    1. js says:

      Your daughter is not out of the woods. She never will be. She will always have those temptations. People can be clean for years and then relapse.

      1. anonymous says:

        I know…she is attending N.A. and I will never trust it fully. But I hope for the best. It’s all I have.

      2. jenn says:

        Only with the power of Jesus Christ can she ever be delivered from this addiction.

    2. goofoff says:

      I know atheist recovering addicts.

    3. duh says:

      thats a bad thing?

  3. Jody L Sheftick says:

    Quit paying for stuff like this and we would have more funding for education and many other important things. Also, if people want welfare, make them be drug and alcohol tested.

    1. Frustrated says:

      Totally agree Jody. I am surprised that a clean alcohol and drug test is not required in order to receive welfare. There are too many people out there abusing the system at the expense hard-working people’s tax dollars. It is also ridiculous for people that don’t work to receive an income tax return even though they don’t pay taxes or generate income. The abuse of the system by these free-loaders has to stop.

      1. knowyourkids says:

        Agreed!

      2. Mark says:

        Methadone is the cheapest drug in the world. The drug itself is pennies a dose. It’s all this counselling and testing that’s required that costs all the money. And besides at least half of these people on methadone work. State and local government waste more money on wasted office supplies than it cost’s to run some of these meth programs. Leave them go!!

    2. DAN says:

      And take away the right to vote. If you cant take care of yourself you dont get to decide what goes on…Your not forced to take handouts!

  4. pgh says:

    Are you kidding me? We pay so that junkies can get a free ride to get their free heroin substitute?

    I don’t want to be republican, not ever, but s___ like this makes it real tempting.

  5. deedee says:

    I’ve been riding the bus along the South Busway (along Route 51) for 7 years now and I still see patients from the Meth clinic on Rt. 51 who have been getting the bus at the Edgebrook stop for as long as I have been riding this route. So, these clinics are also enabling these people to continue this lifestyle of addiction. And these people brag about their free bus pass and their free Medicare A&B cards, free this, free that because they are “disabled.” I’m all for helping people change their lives, but either clean up or you’re on your own. I’m tired of my hard-earned tax dollars supporting these people, some who obviously have no interest in making an effort to change their lives. I’m working to support my 2 children, not these adults who made that lifestyle choice. We’ve made it too easy for them. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! I fully support Senator Ward!!!

    1. mmaletta says:

      I am definately with you on this one! I also take the bus that stops and picks up the “methadonians”! They really upset me the way they brag about all the free stuff they receive that I, as a tax payer pay for!! I’m all for getting well, but not for paying for them to continue to get their daily fix and not even care about getting completely clean!! They even discuss how to work the system so they can get more “freebies” from the government!! What a waste of our tax dollars!!

  6. anonymous says:

    Limit to 30 months? Shouldn’t pay for this at all! I know of a girl that is an addict and in complete welfare state, but getting “gravy” on top in the form of $80.00 every week to cover her cost of transportation to a meth clinic in the next county. There is one in walking distance to her house. Ridiculous.

  7. Mr. N says:

    The addicts had a choice to either take the heroin or not. They had control of their lives when they messed with drugs. If your going to play, you have to pay. It’s not fair to taxi people around who had a choice and let people with other illnesses that require chemo, dialysis, and the like sit or pay for their own way. The addict could have said no. The cancer person had no choice. I don’t mind my taxes going to help others, but come on!

    1. jenn says:

      I had no ride to my cancer treatments and I did not ask for cancer.

  8. Fed Up says:

    Not only are millions of taxpayers’ dollars being spent on transportation to the clinics, but, millions more are being spent paying for their babies who are in the hospital for months after being born, getting weaned off the methadone and who knows how long after that with all of the problems they have. They get free healthcare bacause they are addicts and keep having babies they don’t take care of, and hardworking, honest people can not get the healthcare they need for illnesses of no fault of their own. Then, if they dont make their appointments to the clinic on time, they get to go to the hospital and have their methadone administered as an “emergency” dose. Whatever! If they test positive for drugs, cut them off EVERYTHING! Let the hardworking people have a tax break instead of having to support all of the dead beats and drug addicts. I have had family members who were addicts..They cleaned themselves up with help from the family, not the hardearned taxdollars of the public. Make them walk to the methadone clinic, and pay for the methadone themselves, not with medicaid!

  9. js says:

    my daughter’s mother is a heroin addict. She’s currently in Washington county correctional faciltiy. She’s a wasted life. My tax dollars pay for her to be in drug court which entitles her to cash assistance, housing, and an order not to work.

    This system does not help these individuals. You want them to change, teach them how to be productive members of society. until the,n quit taking our money to support these criminals.
    and im tired of hearing people say that addiction is a disease. I’m sorry, cancer is a disease. People dont choose to get cancer. People choose to partake in drug activity.

  10. lorelai lee says:

    Addicts use methadone to replace the heroin and then go smoke crack for that high. I know this because the addicts I knew told me this. New war on drugs—legalize everything and use the money to send addicts to intense rehab and phycho help for 2 years

  11. agreed says:

    deedee, I see them too and I have everyday for 9 years. I’m sorry but if you’ve been going to that clinic on 51 for NINE YEARS, you are not even trying. I also have two children and at one point in time I had 2 and 3 jobs. All the while they were getting off that bus every morning at 9 AM. I agree enough is enough.

    1. Misty says:

      Agreed…DeeDee doesn’t go to the clinic please read her comment again she said she rides the bus with the people who do go to the clinic.

  12. jenn says:

    Yes it is harsh, but it is a reality. I live in a neighborhood where I work and others work, but I also live in a neighborhood where people are on SSI, SS and other programs and there is not a thing wrong with them. The entitlement programs have gone too far and there has to be a stop and that includes the above. There has to be stricter guidelines. $40 million is a lot of money and can be used to educate people.

    1. Mindpower says:

      All people on disability entitlement programs should have their cases reviewed every 2 years, this would prevent the ” cheaters ” from getting free money for life. The program is for the truly disabled, I don’t believe obesity or drug addiction should be part of that program.

  13. OUTRAGGED says:

    free, free, free that is all everyone wants!! People only want to see what they can get for free. I am so sick and tired of paying taxes only to see the walfare collectors get rich off of my tax dollars. The addicts get everything handed to them~~~why because they made the choice to start doing drugs. We as taxpayers did not make them start doing drugs, it was their choice. I work, I own my own business and what do I get from the government~~but a healthy tax bill, that I have to pay.
    When i go to the doctors, the grocery store or to the pharmacy I see the receipants pulling out their “blue access” cards for everything and what do I pull out my GREEN Money. Boy, what a shock, when I pay for everything I have and they don’t.
    Reality needs to set into the government and it all needs to have a time line for the receivers. Also anyone that recieves welfare, food stamps. medical card or any other government funded programs need to take a drug test 1st. If they fail the test then they should no longer be eligible for assistance. FIRM
    Then we would see a dramtatic drop in the drug user – they would not have any of our tax payers money to buy it and maybe they would go get a Darn JOB!!

    1. knowyourkids says:

      I know how you feel… aside from that doesn’t it feel good though.. I mean to know You have made good life decisions… That strong people have better lives… It is nice though to have some type of program for those who are not taking advantage so they can become strong again… It does suck though to know people are taking advantage.

  14. js says:

    I think the welfare office should focus their “free services” on vasectomies and tubal ligations….. That should be their free service.

  15. Justice for All! says:

    Give them all the drugs they can take for free.
    That way they can overdose and die making this a better place for you and me.

  16. Richard says:

    In addition to limiting the length of time they will provide transportation/treatment they should also mandate that the transportation will be to the closest methadone treatment center, not the one of the ‘patients’ choosing. I’m all for giving folks a hand-up but draw that line at a hand-out!

    1. wasted taxi miles says:

      Please read my response. I agree with you

  17. deedee says:

    The schools really need to start doing intense “anti drug” campaigns (starting in 4th or 5th grade) and not wait until middle school or high school. I’m not talking about these useless programs they have now “Just say no to drugs” and those types of programs. I’m talking about reality. They should have “patients” from these clinics go into the schools and tell these kids the real story of how drugs ruin your life and tell them about their daily trips to the clinic and take pictures of the lines of people waiting to get into the clinic – 7 days a week. Kind of a “scared straight” type program. Prevention is the best medicine ….

    1. knowyourkids says:

      It should the job of us parents to teach our kids about such things!

      1. knowyourkids says:

        My fault…. It should be……..

  18. Shane says:

    Oh stop people please,give the zombies a free ride.Why the hell not,we give half of mexico and most of india a free ride with healthcare and sweet loan deals.Did you know that every gas station will be owned by a towel head in the near future?Com on man,we just spent one BILLION DOLLARS in Libya shooting cruse missiles at the towel heads army.Please don’t go there with the zombies trying to get a fix.Take the log out of your eye and see what the real truth is.The proplem is,you couldn’t handle the truth!!!!!

    1. Poppy says:

      The truth is you’re just a bigot who’s scared of the brown men and women.

    2. knowyourkids says:

      I do like the first amendment! freedom of speech !
      How ever Mean people suck!

  19. Archie Bunker says:

    While I agree with several of the points made here, it seems that reading comprehension, grammar and spelling have gone by the way of the dodo. It’s truly appalling how illiterate so many of you armchair intellectuals really are. Stupidity, not drugs, will be the downfall of the USA.

    1. Thomas J Duttine says:

      That may be the case but drugs and WELFARE will hurry it along!

    2. knowyourkids says:

      My spelling and grammar is not perfect, even less when run by emotion. The fact does still stand.
      Drug addicts use money I work very hard for! I don’t like paying for other peoples life decisions!

    3. js says:

      You forgot a comma dummy

  20. knowyourkids says:

    Wow a Junky can get a free ride…. wile they want to cut $$ for schools….. How responsible.. I don’t feel for your junky kids.. Be a good parent and educate your kids on how dumb and useless those drugs are..Oh wait no lets just blame it on something else wile the gov bails them out and take 0 responsibility for our actions and the actions of our children. Survival of the fittest….. Hmmm who wont survive?

  21. wasted taxi miles says:

    When I had to use a TAXI service to go into Pittsburgh, (from Latrobe), three-times a week, M-W-F, every day we picked up a guy in Delmont, who didn’t want to get his Methadone in Greensburg, because “going into Pittsburgh gave him something to do, and he got to see his friends at the Methodone Clinic there, during his almost daily appointment.”

    He’d been “using” Methadone for 3-years, and when I asked when he’d get weaned off, he stated that he had no plans to stop using Methadone.

    Delmont is 8-miles from Greensburg.

    Delmont is 30-miles from Pittsburgh.

    This guy cost the state 44-miles in transportation costs, three times a week, for three-years already, with no hope of ceasing his “trips”.

  22. Shane says:

    To poppy i’ll smoke you homeboy.

  23. Deb says:

    So many JUDGMENTAL people! It’s a shame. There are some people on the methadone maintenance program who it truly helps. There are people out there with real mental issues that got caught up in drug addiction and it’s a shame that some (many) people take advantage and ruin it for those who truly need the help. What if it was you or your family member that could have a chance to get help. And I’m not saying methadone is the only answer but I do know a lot of people that it has helped and who have gotten off of methadone successfully and are clean (drug free) productive members of society. Always switch shoes and quit being so judgmental people. People shouldn’t put their two cents in when they don’t know all the facts. Too many people like to judge books by their cover. Instead of judging try praying for those who you so like to judge! GOD is the only judge. Remember NONE OF US are perfect.

    1. k1234 says:

      Im sure it does help some people, and that is great! however, they should have to pay for it on their own. they had the money to buy drugs in the first place, right??

      1. Deb says:

        WELL YOU ARE RIGHT BUT HERE’S THE THING I AM ONE OF THE ONE’S THAT WAS ON THE METHADONE MAINTANECE PROGRAM AND I AM A PRODUCTIVE MEMBER OF SOCIETY (I AM CLEAN/DRUG FREE, I WORK EVERYDAY, I PAY MY BILLS, I AM RESPONSIBLE, I HAVE GOOD MORAL AND VALUES, ETC) I HAVE WORKED ALL MY LIFE EVEN WHEN I WAS CAUGHT UP IN MY ADDICTION (WHICH WAS PRESCRIPTION PAIN PILLS, FYI) SO I HAVE PAID TAXES AND STILL DO TO THIS DAY EVEN THOUGH I AM NO LONGER ON METHADONE I KNOW THAT IF THERE IS AT LEAST ONE PERSON THAT IT COULD HELP WELL THEN I’M ALL FOR THAT. I KNOW THERE ARE ONLY SOME OF US ON THE MMP THAT DO “DO IT THE RIGHT WAY” AND THE MAJORITY OF THE PPL ON METHADONE DO TAKE ADVANTAGE AND DON’T USE THE PROGRAM TO HELP THEM. ALL I’M SAYING IS PLEASE DON’T BLAME ALL PPL ON METHADONE FOR TAKING ADVANTAGE. I THINK THERE NEEDS TO BE STRICTER GUIDELINES LIKE YOU HAVE TO HAVE ALL CLEAN URINE’S, YOU HAVE TO ATTEND COUNSELING/GROUP/NA MEETINGS, GET A JOB (WORK A PROGRAM). YOU CANNOT HOWEVER SET A TIME LIMIT ON HOW LONG TO BE ON METHADONE BECAUSE EVERYONE’S RECOVERY IS DIFFERENT. TO BE HONEST IT TOOK ME 5 YEARS. I WAS ON THE METHADONE PROGRAM FOR 5 YEARS BUT WHILE I WAS ON IT I ATTENDED NA MEETING 3-7 TIMES A WEEK, HAD INDIVIDUAL COUNSELING, GROUP THERAPY, ALWAYS WAS EMPLOYED AND YOU HAVE TO COME OFF OF IT SLOWLY (THAT’S THE TICKET TO COMING OFF OF IT)DECREASE 5 MG EVERY 3-4 MONTHS. ANYWAY THAT WAS 15 YRS AGO WHEN I GOT ON METHADONE. SO I HAVE 10 YRS CLEAN TODAY, THANKS TO METHADONE AND ALL THE HELP THAT I GOT. BUT ESPECIALLY BY THE GRACE OF GOD.

      2. DAN says:

        your so messed up on gooberballs your writing in all capital letters! take some free methadone and try to calm down by eating a free cheese sandwich….

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