Bills to address Heroin and Opioid crisis get final passage
Albany, NY – State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer has announced that 11 bills to combat the statewide Heroin and Opioid crisis have passed both houses of the State Legislature.
The comprehensive legislative package will target prevention, treatment, and enforcement issues raised by experts and parents at a public forum of the Heroin and Opioid Addiction Task Force hosted by Senator Ranzenhofer at Batavia City Hall.
“This comprehensive package will help to prevent drug abuse, increase availability and efficacy of treatment and provide resources to law enforcement. The rise in the use of heroin and opioids has claimed too many lives and hurt too many families. That is why it has been so important for the State Legislature to act. I am hopeful that the Governor will put these initiatives to work by signing them into law,” said Ranzenhofer.
The Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction was created in March to examine the alarming rise in use of heroin and opioids. Task Force participants examined the issues surrounding the increase in drug abuse, addiction and drug related crimes; solicited input from experts and other stakeholders; and developed recommendations that were used to create a comprehensive package of legislation to address these issues.
Preventing Opioid Abuse and Overdoses
• Increasing public awareness (S7911): Requires the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and the Department of Health (DOH) to establish the Heroin and Opioid Pain Addiction Awareness and Education Program. The program would utilize social and mass media to reduce the stigma associated with drug addiction, while increasing public’s knowledge about the dangers of opioid and heroin abuse, the signs of addiction, and relevant programs and resources.
• Establishing school drug prevention programs (S7910): Allows for age-appropriate information about the dangers of illegal drug use to be added to junior high school and high school health class curriculums.
• Increasing the effectiveness of overdoses prevention (S7905): Provides that naloxone kits distributed through an opioid overdose prevention program must include an informational card with instructions on steps to take following administration, as well as information on how to access addiction treatment and support services. Opioid overdose prevention programs provide those at risk of an overdose, their family members and their friends with naloxone kits and training on proper administration.
Increasing the Availability and Efficacy of Addiction Treatment
• Creating a new model of detoxification and transitional services (S7904): Establishes the Opioid Treatment and Hospital Diversion Demonstration Program, requiring the development of a new model of detoxification and transitional services for individuals who are in of need support but may not need serious medical care, therefore reducing reliance on emergency room services.
• Establishing a relapse prevention demonstration program (S7903): Creates a Wraparound Services Demonstration Program, through which OASAS would provide referral services for individuals both during participation in substance abuse treatment programs and for nine months thereafter. These community supports, access to which is intended to prevent a relapse, include case management services addressing educational resources, legal services, financial services, and childcare services; peer-to-peer support groups, social services; family services; employment support; and transportation assistance.
• Enabling parents to seek services for children suffering from substance abuse (S7909): Provides that a minor child alleged to be suffering from a substance use disorder may receive an assessment for such disorder as part of the Person in Need of Supervision (PINS) diversion services and may access a variety of services through the PINS diversion process.
• Promoting the affordability of substance abuse services (S7912): Requires insurers to comply with federal substance abuse parity laws, strengthens and standardizes the utilization review process for determining insurance coverage for substance abuse treatment disorders, and requires insurers to continue to provide and reimburse for treatment throughout the appeals process.
Providing Additional Resources to Law Enforcement
• Assisting Health Department Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement Investigators (S7906): Authorizes the Department’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement (BNE) investigators to directly access criminal histories of individuals suspected of criminally diverting prescription medications.
• Adding Fraud and Deceit of Prescription Medication to Penal Law (S7907): Creates a new crime in the penal code of “fraud and deceit related to controlled substances” to crack down on doctor shopping, criminalizing behavior by those individuals who obtain or attempt to obtain a controlled substance or a prescription by misrepresenting themselves as a doctor or pharmacist, or presenting a forged prescription.
• Creating the criminal offense of “criminal sale of a controlled substance by a practitioner or pharmacist” (S7902): Creates a new crime in the Penal law - a Class C felony - when a practitioner or pharmacist uses his or her professional practice to unlawfully sell controlled substances.
• Making the "criminal sale of a controlled substance by a practitioner or pharmacist" offense eligible for prosecution under the enterprise corruption statute (S7908) and allows for eavesdropping warrants, both tools for investigations into the illegal distribution of controlled substances.
The Senate and Assembly has also passed legislation (S6477B) to increase the use of the heroin antidote, naloxone, which can be used to treat heroin overdoses onsite. By authorizing health care professionals to issue non-patient specific prescriptions for such medication to certified training programs and pharmacies, this bill would increase the number of people who have naloxone when it is needed most.