On January 16, 2018, Governor Cuomo announced the following budget proposal:

“A new surcharge of 2 cents per milligram of active opioid ingredient on prescription drugs, directing all proceeds to the Opioid Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Fund. This new fund will support on-going efforts to respond to the epidemic.” The surcharge is expected to raise $127 million.

FOR-NY Executive Director Stephanie Campbell testified on February 13 in front of the NYS Legislature at the 2018 Joint Budget Hearing on Mental Hygiene. In her testimony, Stephanie stated that the proposed opioid surcharge is in reality an “opioid stewardship fee” that should be utilized specifically for prevention, treatment and recovery support services for individuals and families impacted by the addiction pandemic, and not be passed on to consumers. FOR-NY supported a one cent tax per milligram in March 2017. This proposal was met with both support and some opposition, particularly from pharmaceutical companies and pain management advocates. Similar legislation has been introduced in California, Alaska, and Federally in Congress.

The surge of people dying in the opioid crisis continues to rise. Nationally, there were over 63,600 deaths in 2016 or– 174 Americans dying per day. Overdose is now the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50. New York overdose deaths have climbed over 200 percent in the last five years. The overall burden to the state, including health care, criminal justice costs, and lost productivity, has ballooned into the billions of dollars. Given the $4.4 billion shortfall in the New York State budget, a steady revenue stream of critically needed funding for prevention, treatment and recovery services is desperately needed to address the greatest public health crisis the nation has seen in generations.

The New York State Budget has a proposed opioid surcharge aimed at holding those who contributed to this crisis accountable, while reducing the demand for opioids in this saturated market. As individuals continue to struggle with prescription drug addiction, with no end in sight for grieving families who continue to lose loved ones to overdose death, it is time that those who played an active role in getting opioids into the marketplace, help resolve the crisis that ensued. Resources are needed now and for the foreseeable future so that people who are suffering from addiction are given the opportunity to lead full lives in recovery.

We need to raise our voices to educate lawmakers about what is needed to support Prevention, Treatment and Recovery! Make sure to register and join us for FOR-NY’s Stand Up For Recovery Day to have your voice be heard! See you on March 6 as we #StandUpForRecovery2018 !!!