Local state senators hosted the first public hearing on opioids, addiction and overdose prevention.
Sen. Pete Harckham, chairman of the Senate Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, co-chairs a Joint Task Force with Sen. David Carlucci, chairman of the Senate Mental Health Committee and Sen. Gustavo Rivera, chairman of the Senate Health Committee.
Harckham and Carlucci represent parts of Westchester County and Rivera is from the Bronx, where the opening hearing took place at St. Barnabas Hospital. More than 25 people testified at the first hearing.
There will be at least five more hearings, including one in the Hudson Valley on Oct. 3, another on Long Island on Oct. 15 and one on Staten Island on Sept. 16. More details will be announced later.
The Joint Task Force is traveling the state to learn more about the issues surrounding opioid overdose and addiction.
“Opioid and other substance use disorders continue to claim way too many lives in NYS, in all age groups,” Harckham said. "After our initial public hearing in the Bronx on Friday (Aug. 9), the Joint Task. . . will be hitting the road, over the next few months, to speak with stakeholders all over our state, to better understand how to save lives through improved state programs, better allocation of funds and new legislation.”
Harckham and the Senate Majority introduced a number of measures during the recent Senate session, that were ultimately passed by the Senate. For example, the minimum number of days for inpatient substance abuse treatment was doubled from 14 to 28, before insurance companies may conduct their concurrent review. Often, people seeking recovery were unable to obtain the proper treatment they needed because their insurance provider had kicked them out of treatment prematurely, often with no follow -up plan.
Other new laws reduce the number of co-pays a patient can be charged and mandate that Medication Assisted Treatment be covered by all insurance plans, both public and private, and be mandated in all correctional facilities throughout the state. Additional legislation was passed requiring physicians to discuss the risks associated with opioid prescriptions and possible alternatives, as well as Stephen’s Law, requiring that treatment centers, at the consent of the patient, must inform their support network should they determine that a patient is in a life endangering situation.