Senate Approves Harckham Bill That Connects Individuals with Appropriate Service Providers for Substance Use Disorder Treatment

State Sen. Pete Harckham

Albany, NY – New York State Senator Pete Harckham and his Senate colleagues approved legislation (S.4359A) today that will connect individuals who are coping with Substance Use Disorder to appropriate service providers. The legislation will prevent overdose deaths by ensuring that people admitted to hospitals and are at risk or suffering from an addiction receive treatment options to help them.

“Requiring hospitals to point people who have experienced an overdose in the right direction, and also begin to offer them treatment, will save lives across the state,” said Harckham. “This will result in a wider involvement in addiction services for healthcare providers, which is necessary to address the increase in overdoses we are experiencing.”

 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the last 12 months ending in May 2020—a record high figure. The latest numbers suggest an acceleration of overdose during the Covid-19 pandemic. Obviously, more help is needed for those who are suffering with Substance Use Disorder to get connected to the care they need. The legislation focuses on individuals after they have experienced an overdose or substance-related incident required hospitalization or emergency treatment.

Harckham added, “There should be no wrong door to enter treatment. If someone is admitted to the hospital for addiction, everything should be done to make sure that the individual is connected to services that can help them.”

The new legislation requires the state Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) to develop or utilize existing educational materials to disseminate to individuals with a documented Substance Use Disorder, and for hospitals to offer treatment to these individuals, including medication assisted treatment when deemed necessary, within seventy-two hours of admission.

Additionally, if individuals refuse services then the hospital has to connect them to an appropriate service provider, which may even be a hypodermic syringe and needle exchange program. Individuals with documented Substance Use Disorder will also be informed before discharge of the availability of treatment services that be available to them, and if requested, connect them to the appropriate services.  (This information will be placed in the medical records of these individuals.)

“COMPA thanks the New York State Senate and bill sponsor Senator Pete Harckham for passing S.4359A today,” said Allegra Schorr, President of the Coalition of Medication-Assisted Treatment Providers and Advocates (COMPA). “This legislation will prevent overdoses by ensuring that people with Substance Use Disorder receive an immediate response from hospitals, including medication-assisted treatment when needed. This important bill guarantees that individuals will be connected to life-saving care.”