Time flies when we advocate like our lives are on the line!

And that is indeed what Recovery Warriors have been doing around New York State when the legislature started its 2018 session on January 1st through the end of the legislative session which ended on Wednesday June 21.

We prepared diligently and came together on Stand Up For Recovery Day to educate law makers about our needs as a recovery community. And it was through those efforts that we passed substantial legislation that will pave the road to save lives for years to come.

But our efforts did not end there. Since the budget passed in April, the recovery community continues to build and organize all over the state. We are meeting with local leaders and communicating via social media and local news outlets to spread the word about the promise of recovery and the many pathways needing support to ensure that recovery has a place in New York.

Through these efforts, we arrived at the end of the 2018 Legislative session. Thanks to our final push, two out of the five pieces of legislation we worked tirelessly on passed both the Senate and the Assembly. There is still a long road ahead, but let us take a moment to feel gratitude for the advocacy work we have done as a recovery community.

Thank you all for your efforts!

Legislation that passed:

1. Insurance ParityS.1156 (Ortt)/A.3694 (Gunther) This legislation will require the Superintendent of Financial Services to collect and publish key data from insurers and health plans regarding their coverage for addiction and mental health care in a number of areas. Not only will this information allow the government to ensure that insurers and health plans are in compliance with parity laws, it will enable consumers to make informed decisions regarding insurance options, to select the plan that will best suit their needs. This is a key win for the recovery community! See our memo of support here.

2. Ending Patient BrokeringA.7689 (Rosenthal)/ S6544 (Akshar) This legislation would amend the Mental Hygiene Law by making it a misdemeanor for any provider to solicit, receive, accept or agree to receive or accept any payment for the referral of a person as a potential patient for substance use disorder services. This legislation will help to further deter the practice of patient brokering in NYS thereby creating a safer environments for individuals and families seeking help. This is also an incredible win for the recovery community! See our memo of support here.

3. Medical Marijuana to deter opioid dependenceS.8987A (Amedore)/A.1101-B (Gottfried) Adds “pain that degrades health and functional capability where the use of medical marihuana is an alternative to opioid use, substance use disorder” to the list of conditions for which medical marijuana can be prescribed. The dead do not recover. We need to keep people alive. We also know that medication is being used to support recovery – like other chronic illnesses. Medical marijuana is one of many tools that can help people get into recovery.

Legislation that we need to continue to work for:

4. MAT insurance CoverageS.6674 (Amedore)/A.7979 (Quart) This bill prohibits certain insurance policies from requiring prior authorization for buprenorphine products, methadone and long acting injectable naltrexone for detoxification or maintenance treatment of substance use disorders.

5. MAT Insurance CoverageA.4899 (Rosenthal)/S.7905 (Griffo) This bill ensures that patients suffering from drug and alcohol dependency receive appropriate care, by requiring that health insurers provide coverage of opioid addiction medications without prior authorization.

Regarding bills #4 and #5, patients seeking treatment for opioid addiction are in withdrawal and frequently experience severe symptoms which include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping and anxiety, and require immediate attention. The benefits of prescribing or dispensing medications that are FDA-approved for the treatment of opioid use disorder are easing the symptoms of withdrawal and blocking the craving of illicit drugs. The current practice of requiring prior authorization for this life-saving medication is antithetical to the intended use of the medication which is why we strongly support this legislation.

6. MAT in Jails and PrisonsA.8774 (Rosenthal)/S.8914 (Bailey): Requires medication assisted treatment for inmates in both state and county correctional facilities; also includes reporting requirements. Currently, $3.75 Million has been allocated to serve inmates in Jails in 17 County Jails thanks to an advocacy campaign with the NYS Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors.

7. Recovery HousingA.612 (Thiele) (same as S.910)/S.902 (Croci) (Same as A.6210) Creates a Sober Living Task Force. Assemblymember Rosenthal will also be holding a Recovery Housing Roundtable in which we will invite members of the Recovery community to attend and be a part of the conversation.

Again, thank you all for your efforts these past six months. As always we are so grateful to be working with such inspired recovery advocates!