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We're investigating the business of drug treatment in Pa.

The Investigator
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October 3, 2019 | spotlightpa.org

This week's roundup is full of great work out of Philly, starting with the state's failure to stop abuse at juvenile facilities across Pa. Plus, Spotlight PA is investigating the business of addiction treatment. And check out last week's Riddler answer (it was a tough one) and the new puzzle.


“I wish I could go back and fix all of these problems."

— Pa. Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller, on the state's failure to heed warnings and protect children in juvenile facilities

We're investigating the booming business of addiction treatment in Pa. Share your story.

By Aneri Pattani, Spotlight PA

In the past two years, more than $150 million has poured into Pennsylvania to combat the opioid crisis, nearly doubling the rate of per capita spending. Most of that money has come from the federal government, which has given the Commonwealth more money than any other state except California. Additional funding has come from philanthropic grants.

By some measures, the influx of cash is working: The state’s overdose death rate decreased by 18% in 2018, the first drop in at least five years, and hospital admissions for overdoses are also going down. But the rush of dollars raises important questions about where the money is going, how well it’s being spent and if patients are getting the best treatment.

We want your help investigating the business of addiction treatment in Pennsylvania.


Meet our team
Daniel Simmons-Ritchie
Investigative Reporter

What he covers: Human services, education, Higher Education Assistance Agency, Liquor Control Board, Gaming Control Board

Most folks don’t spend much time thinking about the Department of Education or the Department of Human Services. But together, these two behemoths affect almost every one of us in some way.

The Department of Education shapes the curriculum of Pennsylvania’s 1.7 million students, licenses teachers, sets exam standards and intervenes when districts fail. The human services department administers government health insurance to 2.2 million low-income residents, manages the food stamp program and inspects child care centers and housing for the mentally ill and intellectually disabled.

I’m also covering Pennsylvania’s Higher Education Assistance Agency, which administers billions in financial aid and student loans to college students each year, as well as the Liquor Control Board and the Gaming Control Board.

My job is to figure out where these departments are dropping the ball or wasting your hard-earned taxpayer dollars. To do that, I need you: If you are aware of problems in our welfare or education system, or any of the other areas I cover, send me a note. I'd love to hear from you.

— Daniel

» Email Daniel at dsimmons-ritchie@spotlightpa.org, call him at 717-255-8162 or send a secure tip at spotlightpa.org/tips.
Only the best


Despite warnings, Pa. state officials failed for years to stop abuse at juvenile facilities

About 2% of allegations of abuse at these facilities were substantiated by investigators over the past 10 years.


Feds asked Pa. to test air around Erie Coke plant in 2011, but state didn't do it until this year

The tests found elevated levels of benzene, a carcinogen, and state officials have opened an investigation.

» Pa. county doesn't track exact hours of police officers on administrative duty
» Second lawsuit alleges misuse of scholarship funds at Cheyney University
» Bankrupt Philly refinery wants to hand out more executive bonuses, this time in secret
» Pa. Supreme Court denies request to deem death penalty unconstitutional
» Police arbitration lawsuits have cost Philly taxpayers at least $5M in past decade
» A pay raise could be in the offing for Pa.'s local government officials
» Turnpike Commission spending $2M to study a "hyperloop." Don't hold your breath.
» Going to a brewery this weekend? You'll probably pay a little bit more.

Send your answers to newsletters@spotlightpa.org.
Calling Card (Case No. 4): A detective investigating a burglary discovered a bizarre calling card written on the wall in marker: 7718. The detective stared a moment at the number and suddenly knew the burglar's name. How?
Stumped? Get a hint.

Last week's answer: The homeowner was lying about the fire the night before because the flue damper was closed. Congrats to Robert B. who cracked the case and will receive some Spotlight PA swag. 
» This week's Riddler hint: Look from every angle.
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