June 14, 2016—An agreement on new legislation that will expand access to addiction treatments in New York State was praised by the Legal Action Center (LAC) today. The agreement between Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York State legislative leaders incorporated key recommendations of the Governor’s Heroin and Opioid Task Force, which were enthusiastically supported by LAC.
“With this new legislative package, New York State, under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, is taking important steps that will save the lives of thousands of New Yorkers,” said LAC Director/President Paul Samuels. “The legislation removes some key obstacles to addiction treatments and will help more people with substance use disorders get the medical care they desperately need.”
LAC commended the legislation for knocking down barriers to insurance coverage for lifesaving medications. For example, it will:
• end prior authorization for inpatient treatment for addiction, which has been required by insurance companies;
• facilitate immediate access to inpatient services and require insurers to cover these treatments for as long as people need them;
• prevent insurers from requiring prior authorization for medications that treat addiction;
• mandate that insurers use an objective, state-approved criteria when making coverage determinations for inpatient treatment.
The legislation will also enhance and expand the treatments and services available to people with addictions in New York State. For example, it requires hospitals to provide follow-up treatment service options to people with addictions when they are discharged. It allows more trained professionals to administer medications to reverse overdoses. Moreover, it allocates funding to increase treatment beds, opioid treatment programs, wrap-around services to facilitate long-term recovery and a variety of other important support services.
Finally, it includes a number of important steps to encourage prevention, including ongoing education on addiction and pain management for all physicians and prescribers.