Governor Cuomo Vetoes Legislation to Ban Prior-Authorization Requirements on Addiction Medications in Medicaid

January 2, 2020: While the Legal Action Center applauds Governor Cuomo’s passage of legislation to remove prior authorization requirements for addiction medicine in commercial insurance, we are deeply disappointed that the proposed bill to do the same in Medicaid was vetoed. We are concerned that Medicaid recipients in New York no longer have the same access to medications that commercial beneficiaries have. Prior authorizations have been shown to have no medical value but rather function as a barrier to quickly accessing vital substance use disorder treatment. Furthermore, studies have shown that eliminating the burden of prior authorization saves both lives and money.

Addiction medication can cut a person’s risk of fatal overdose in half, and amidst the current epidemic, LAC knows how critical timely access to care is. Tracie Gardner, LAC’s Vice President for Policy Advocacy says, “LAC strongly believes that it is vital for government, advocates, providers, and drug manufacturers to come together and promptly reach a workable solution. We all bear responsibility for ensuring that people with substance use disorders have immediate access to life-saving treatments.” LAC will continue to advocate to fully break down this unnecessary barrier to care so that all New Yorkers can access the treatment they need to recover from addiction without delay.

“There is clear and compelling evidence that removing prior authorization requirements for medications to treat opioid use disorder will increase utilization, which will result in fewer opioid-related overdose deaths and also decrease utilization of other expensive healthcare services,” says Christine Khaikin, Health Policy Attorney at LAC. She adds, “LAC will fight for those New Yorkers left behind by the Governor’s recent veto, so that everyone in our state, no matter their insurance coverage, can get the medication they need, as soon as they need it.”

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