Recovery Warriors from throughout New York State made their mark this year on the New York State Budget passed in the final week of March 2018. Thanks to the advocacy of the recovery movement, the voice of recovery was heard and the passed budget demonstrates that legislators were listening. Please see below some of the successes of our advocacy efforts on the NYS Budget, including:

1. Passage of the Opioid Stewardship Fund
Article VII Part NN Title 2A establishes the Opioid Stewardship Act which creates a $100 million “opioid stewardship fund.” Such fund will be paid to New York State OASAS to provide opioid treatment, recovery and prevention and education services; and to provide support for the prescription monitoring program registry. The fund will be paid into by pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors—not the consumers—as of January 1, 2019. Creating a new funding stream for prevention, treatment and recovery is a first step to ensure that our budget demands in years to come have a clear way of being funded.

2. Establishment of the Independent Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Ombudsman Program
Article VII Part FF establishes the Office of the Independent Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Ombudsman. The role of the ombudsman helps Substance Use Disorder consumers “ensure that they receive appropriate health insurance coverage.” This role is integral to our top priority of Insurance Parity.

3. Defining Certified Peer Recovery Advocate (CPRA) Services and funding to certify 250 more CPRAs
Article VII Part GG defines the employment related activities of a Certified Peer Recovery Advocate. This is an essential step to getting more Peers certified, hired and paid. With more, certified peers, we are much closer to our goal of ensuring Treatment on Demand.

4. Funding for Two New Family Resource Centers: Located in Long Island (Thomas’ Hope) and Erie County (Save the Michaels of the World)

5. Funding for a new Recovery Community and Outreach Center and a Youth Clubhouse in Long Island

6. Substance Use Disorder Preauthorization
Article VII Part MM establishes that SUD outpatient, intensive, outpatient, outpatient rehabilitation and opioid treatment shall not be subject to preauthorization. This is an issue that often is discussed in our recovery talks, that people seeking help cannot access the help they need because they needed to “fail first.” This is another step forward in accessing Treatment on Demand.

7. Fentanyl Analogs
Article VII part BB accepts the proposal to add 11 new fentanyl analogs to the state’s regulated controlled substances list.

8. Opioid Monitoring Requirement
Article VII part D establishes that patients may not be prescribed opioids for longer than three months without a written treatment plan. This provision excludes patients with cancer or patients seeking hospice or palliative care.

9. Children and Recovering Mothers Program
Article VII Part MM establishes the Children and Recovering Mothers Program. This program would provide healthcare providers, hospitals and midwifery birth centers with guidance, education and assistance providing care to pregnant women with Substance Use Disorder. The program would also create a workgroup to look at barriers and challenges in identifying and treating pregnant women, newborns and new parents with SUD. This is very important to the recovery movement as we recognize the need to treat the entire family.

10. $3.75 Million for Jail Based Substance Use Disorder Services
As stated in FOR-NY’s policy statement providing services within the criminal justice system is critically important as a means of supporting recovery.

11. Telehealth
Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselors are now authorized as telehealth providers. This is critically important to our community in rural parts of New York State.

What we need to work on moving forward
In spite of these successes there is still so much work to do and we are so grateful to have recovery advocates in our corner to work on these issues together. Of particular importance is:

1. Fighting for the Opioid Stewardship Fee to be permanent and to ensure that funds are directed towards prevention, treatment and recovery. We must fight in next year’s budget to ensure that the fund does not supplant already established funding but that we get new money needed to fight this growing public health emergency.

2. Treatment on Demand: Continue to advocate for funding for Certified Recovery Peer Advocates in each county and ensure that services are provided where they are needed—particularly in Emergency Departments and in the Criminal Justice System. Keep advocating with your local Hospitals and stressing the need for new ER Protocols.

3. Insurance Parity—S.1156 (Ortt)/A.3694 (Gunther) would establish a report on substance use disorder parity which would help us determine who the bad actors are. This bill is currently in the Insurance Committee in the Assembly and Senate. Let’s hold state government accountable and utilize the new SUD Ombudsman and make sure that the services offered are meeting the needs of our population.

4. Recovery High Schools—A.8380 (Rosenthal) /S.5537 (Carlucci) passed in the Senate but is still being negotiated in the Assembly. We must continue to educate lawmakers about the importance of Recovery High Schools to our young people.

5. End Patient Brokering—A.7689 (Rosenthal)/ S6544 (Akshar) Prohibits deceptive acts and practices for substance abuse disorder treatment. This bill passed in the Senate but is still being negotiated in the Assembly.

6. Certification of Recovery Housing—The Senate proposed a voluntary certification process for sober homes. We must keep pushing to make sure this proposal becomes a reality.

Again thank you to all you Recovery Warriors for all you do! We look forward to working together to support the Recovery Community through the end of June!

Federal Policy to be aware of:

On April 23, 2018, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Action Plan, required by Section 13002 of the 21st Century Cures Act. The Action Plan aligns with HHS’s five-pillar strategy for addressing the opioid crisis, which includes helping people access evidence-based treatment. HHS recently updated its online portal to help individuals who have questions or are having trouble accessing their mental health or SUD treatment. This portal is available at

Warren, Cummings Introduce Comprehensive Legislation to Combat Opioid Epidemic
Senator Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings are introducing the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act to begin treating the opioid crisis like the critical public health emergency it is.

The CARE Act is modeled directly on the Ryan White Act, supporting local decision making and federal research and programs to prevent drug use while funding evidence-based treatments and recovery support services. President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers estimated that the opioid crisis cost the nation more than $500 billion in 2015 alone. The CARE Act would provide $100 billion in federal funding over ten years, including:
• $4 billion per year to states, territories, and tribal governments, including $2 billion to states with the highest levels of overdoses, $1.6 billion through competitive grants, and $400 million for tribal grants;
• $2.7 billion per year to the hardest hit counties and cities, including $1.43 billion to counties and cities with the highest levels of overdoses, $1 billion through competitive grants, and $270 million for tribal grants;
• $1.8 billion per year for public health surveillance, biomedical research, and improved training for health professionals, including $1 billion for the National Institutes of Health, $400 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and regional tribal epidemiology centers, and $400 million to train and provide technical assistance to professionals treating substance use disorders;
• $1 billion per year to support expanded and innovative service delivery, including $500 million for public and nonprofit entities and $500 million for projects of national significance that provide treatment, recovery, and harm reduction services; and
• $500 million per year to expand access to the overdose reversal drug naloxone and provide this life-saving medicine to states to distribute to first responders, public health departments, and the public.

Opposition to H.R. 3545, the “Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act.”

FOR-NY has circulated a letter of opposition to H.R. 3545, the “Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act.” Thank you to all of those who signed on to the letter!
In the midst of the worst opioid epidemic in our nation’s history, we must do everything possible to increase the number of people who seek treatment, but H.R. 3545 would do the opposite. By reducing privacy protections for individuals receiving substance use disorder (“SUD”) treatment to allow disclosures and re-disclosures of SUD information without patient consent to a wide range of health care providers and plans and others with whom they work, H.R. 3545 would discourage people from entering care out of fear that their treatment records will be used against them in many harmful ways.
Patients in substance use disorder treatment should retain the power to decide when and to whom their records are disclosed, given the continued prevalence of discrimination in our society.

Support H.R. 5408
FOR-NY is in support of Congressman Dave Brat of Virginia’s bill H.R. 5408. This bill would amend the Public Health Service Act, starting in FY19, to allocate 20% of substance use disorder block grant funds toward grants for recovery community organizations for the purpose of providing peer recovery support services for individuals with a substance use disorder. The bill has been referred to the Energy and Commerce Committee, though no hearing dates have been scheduled as of yet.
You can read the full bill by clicking here.

We urge you to call your House members, asking them to cosponsor Congressman Brat’s bill! Again, the Bill is H.R. 5408.