By Eden Laikin
Once in effect, New York State will have the most aggressive and comprehensive package of laws, in the nation, to combat the deadly Heroin and prescription pill epidemic, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. And, the Governor said, White House officials say they want to model a federal program based on New York’s.
These laws address: insurance barriers to treatment, need for more treatment beds, limits on Opioid Prescriptions, doctor education on pain pill addiction, and help after surviving an overdose.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano – who joined Cuomo in Farmingdale on Wednesday for the signing of the historic legislation – thanked Governor Cuomo for “taking the lead on a bold and groundbreaking package of reforms that will save lives and keep families whole – and, for his continued concern for the welfare and safety of Nassau residents.
State officials said this ceremony marks the culmination of a hard fought statewide advocacy campaign involving hundreds of individuals and organizations from all over the state – including those on the Nassau County Heroin Prevention Task Force.
The Governor and members of the State Senate and Assembly came to agreement on the bills, at the end of the last Legislative session. In the audience for Wednesday’s ceremony were representatives from community coalitions, treatment agencies, youth divisions, departments of mental health and chemical dependency and family members directly impacted by the epidemic.
The Legislation was based on a series of recommendations by the State’s Heroin and Opioid Task Force, which was formed just more than 2 years ago. Nassau County officials joined the hearings the task force held on Long Island, and shared the County’s recommendations – many of which are included in these bills.
The new legislation also eliminates the need for “prior insurance authorization” to begin treatment with Naltrexone (Vivitrol.)
“We’ve long known that the only way to attack this epidemic is with a comprehensive approach that includes prevention, education, awareness, enforcement, treatment and recovery,” County Executive Mangano said. “This package of legislation addresses them all.”
· Details on Legislation Signed:
o Limits Opioid Prescriptions from 30 to 7 Days – The law lowers the limit for opioid prescriptions for acute pain from 30-days to no more than a 7-day supply, with exceptions for chronic pain and other conditions.
o Requires Mandatory Prescriber Education on Pain Management – requires the completion of 3 hours of education every 3 years on addiction, pain management, and palliative care. And, mandate pharmacists to provide info on drug addiction risks to consumers, including info on local treatment services.
o Increases Treatment Beds by 270 and Program Slots by 2,335
o Eliminates Burdensome Insurance Barriers to Treatment
§ Ends “Prior Insurance Authorization” needed for: access to inpatient treatment; for coverage for at least 14 days of inpatient treatment; Drug Treatment Medications (for withdrawal or relapse – to including buprenorphine and injectable naltrexone (Vivitrol).
§ Requires insurers to:
· use “state-approved criteria” to determine level of care for addicts. (Instead of their own often inconsistent criteria.)
· cover the costs of naloxone (Narcan) when prescribed to an addict or their family member.
§ cover hospital costs for a 72-hour hold of an active addict or one just revived from an OD, to stabilize and connect them to long-term treatment options. (an increase from the current 48-hours.) It also requires hospital medical staff to provide the services to these patients with nearby treatment options.
§ Authorizes trained medical professionals to administer naloxone in emergencies without risk to their professional license.