ALBANY, 06/19/14 – State Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I – Oneonta) today spoke on the senate floor in support of legislation to fight the growing heroin and opioid abuse epidemic. The senate passed a package of eleven bills that were part of a three-way agreement between the senate, assembly and governor. The package includes senate bill 7912, sponsored by Senator Seward, to improve access to insurance coverage for substance abuse treatment and dependency services.
“Heroin addiction is a menace infiltrating all social, economic, and geographic sectors of our state and taking a deadly toll,” said Senator Seward. “Thanks to the work of the Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, we now have a multi-prong strategy to combat this epidemic that includes education and prevention, treatment, and tougher law enforcement.”
Senator Seward served on the New York State Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction and hosted a task force forum in Oneonta to solicit input from local health care professionals, addiction experts, law enforcement officials, and concerned citizens. In all, 18 forums were held across the state to focus attention on the growing heroin epidemic.
“The forums, which included expert testimony and real-life stories, clearly illustrated the need for swift action. At the forum I hosted, I heard from addiction specialists, law enforcement leaders, those in recovery, and a mother who lost her son to an addiction related suicide. It was clear, in my mind, that this destructive heroin epidemic had to be addressed immediately and a multi-prong strategy was needed to truly produce results.
“When a heroin addict decides to seek help, it is crucial that services are made available. It may be the turning point in someone’s life, and I don’t want that moment to pass because of insurance paperwork, the denial of services by a bureaucrat who isn’t medically qualified to make such a decision, or drawn-out appeals,” Seward concluded.