April 4, 2016—New York, New York—The Legal Action Center (LAC) praised Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature for their 2016 budget agreement, which contains several important measures to help people with substance use disorders and criminal histories.
“We at the Legal Action Center are pleased to see that this year’s Executive Budget includes a consistent level of funding for additional prevention, treatment and recovery supports to address heroin and prescription opioid addiction, and other substance use disorders,” said LAC’s Director/President Paul Samuels. “We thank the Governor and the Legislature, as well as Commissioner González-Sánchez, and the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services for their commitment to addressing substance use disorders, and the significant increase in funding in this year’s budget, so that more New Yorkers can get the treatment and supports they need.”
The Governor and Legislature deserve praise for including:
- An additional $25 million (on top of the $6 million included in the Governor’s Executive Budget) to support prevention, treatment and recovery services. These funds will help treatment providers and others combat the opioid epidemic sweeping the state.
- A $2 million increase to support school-based drug prevention services in New York City schools.
- An increase of $2.7 million to support Alternatives to Incarceration and reentry programs, which serves significant numbers of individuals with addiction histories.
LAC was also very pleased to see that the budget included new approaches for helping justice-involved people get behavioral and other health care services after they are released from prison. Without adequate health care upon reentry, their chances of death, chronic disease, relapse and reincarceration dramatically increase. The new budget helps to address this dire need by:
- Providing $5 million for criminal justice “health homes,” a pilot Medicaid project that will coordinate and provide systematic care to people with serious mental illnesses and other conditions, including substance use disorders and HIV/AIDS.
- Modifying New York State’s prohibition on the use of Medicaid funds for those who are incarcerated. The budget authorizes inmates with certain chronic conditions, including addictions and mental health disorders, to start getting Medicaid coverage 30 days prior to their scheduled releases. This will help them obtain vital medical services and prescriptions as soon as they are released. It will require approval a federal waiver of Medicaid rules.
LAC looks forward to continuing to work with the State to ensure that addiction services appropriately reflect the needs of all those throughout New York in need of treatment, prevention and recovery services. Providing these services to New Yorkers, either prior to or as a result of their criminal justice involvement, saves lives, improves health and reduces the damaging flow of individuals into the criminal justice system.