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Opioid Crisis Addressed in 2018 N.Y.S. Budget

The on-going opioid epidemic continues to escalate both nationally and locally, and the 2018 New York State Budget took several steps to address the problem. Clearly, there is no simple fix for the over-prescription, over-utilization, and resulting addictions that have been the result of this crisis. But, the implementation of these budgeted items are first steps to fund and address the problem statewide.

The New York State Health Department provides information on their web page, but here is a list of some areas in the budget that address this crisis:

  • The Opioid Stewardship Act, or Tax, will charge manufacturers and distributors of opioids in New York. The goal of this Act is to raise $100 million a year to offset the costs of treating Opioid addictions.
  • The Office of Independent Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Ombudsman will be created and operate under the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. The Ombudsman will assist individuals with SUD, and/or mental illness, to ensure they receive appropriate health insurance coverage.
  • Prior authorization of outpatient substance abuse treatment will be prohibited.
  • A Children and Recovering Mother’s program will be created.
  • A Peer Recovery Advocate Services program will be created.
  • The prohibition of prescribing opioids for more than a 3 month period of time (without a Opioid Treatment Plan). Exceptions for Cancer and Palliative care.

The Kaiser Family Foundation recently performed an analysis of  employer based health insurance costs associated with treating opioid addiction. What they found was, “while the use of prescription opioids among people with employer-based health coverage has declined to its lowest levels in over a decade, the cost of treating addiction and overdoses has increased sharply.” Based on the continued inflation associated with all medical treatment this isn’t surprising. However, the analysis findings highlight the fact that a decrease in misuse of opioids doesn’t necessarily equate to a decrease in short-term costs.

There is more work to be done as evidenced by the number of treatment requests and deaths that are steadily increasing. We expect more budgeted and legislative efforts in the future.

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