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Governor updates New Yorkers on efforts to address opioid epidemic


Mon, May 16th 2022 04:45 pm

FY 2023 enacted budget provides funding for prevention, treatment & recovery services

√ Opioid Settlement Advisory Board members appointed, scheduled to meet

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday updated New Yorkers regarding ongoing efforts to address the opioid epidemic. In response to the newly released information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicating that more than 107,000 Americans died of overdoses last year, the governor is “reinforcing ongoing investments and her continued commitment to addressing this critical issue.”

"The figures released by the CDC are staggering, showing precious lives continue to be taken by the opioid epidemic, devastating families and communities across New York state and beyond," Hochul said. "Make no mistake: My administration will fight every day to provide New Yorkers with further access to life-saving resources, services and care. We will do everything we can to empower New Yorkers with the information they need to protect themselves and their loved ones from this public health crisis."

Hochul’s team said, “One of the governor's first actions upon taking office was appointing a new commissioner of the Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS). Since her appointment, Dr. Chinazo Cunningham, a physician and expert in treating substance use disorder, has been working to expand and enhance the state's addiction services system.”

Cunningham said, "I am proud to have been appointed by Gov. Hochul to help implement an agenda of ensuring a comprehensive system of prevention, treatment, recovery and harm reduction in New York state. Ensuring equitable access to these critical services is essential to helping us save more lives and support more families."

OASAS oversees one of the nation's largest substance use disorder systems of care, with approximately 1,700 prevention, treatment, harm reduction and recovery programs serving over 680,000 individuals per year. OASAS is the state agency designated to provide the coordination of state-federal relations in the area of addiction services; is the state opioid treatment authority; and the agency charged with the responsibility to monitor the use of the opioid settlement funds and ensure that the funds appropriated in the budget are expended for their designated purpose.

Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett and the State's Department of Health continue to advance a variety of harm-reduction initiatives to reduce the burden of opioid abuse and dependency statewide. This includes data collection and reporting as well as supporting the work of partners in all corners of the state to build on the community basis for compassionate care.

Bassett said, "The department continues the critical work of providing and expanding access to evidence-based treatment and care for New Yorkers struggling with substance use. Under Gov. Hochul's leadership, increased funding and the establishment of a diverse, experienced advisory board will enable us to further these efforts and help save lives."

Assembly member Phil Steck said, "Last year, the Assembly committee on alcoholism and drug abuse moved historic legislation that created the Opioid Settlement Fund, which structured how the opioid settlement funds could be spent, required the funds not replace the current level of NYS funding, and created the Opioid Settlement Advisory Board. As chair, I was able to move legislation that specifically ensured this board included individuals with expertise in substance use disorder, harm reduction, criminal justice, and drug policy, in addition to individuals with personal or professional experience with substance use disorder and co-occurring mental illnesses. Considering the significant impact this level of additional funding could have on the opioid epidemic, it was critical to have a board in place that could make recommendations from the perspective of learned experience. I have worked directly with many of the appointees on this board, and I have full confidence in their stewardship of this important fund."

The fiscal year 2023 enacted budget invests $184.5 million of Opioid Settlement Funds in initiatives to address the opioid epidemic. These initiatives expand access to treatment services across the state by expanding system capacity and improving pathways for individuals to enter treatment.

In addition, the budget invests $200 million over five years from the Opioid Stewardship Fund to fight the opioid epidemic using a public health approach. This interagency effort will be coordinated by OASAS and DOH and focus on harm reduction programs designed to serve individuals at highest risk of overdose, as well as initiatives to help uninsured New Yorkers afford the cost of opioid treatment.

Cunningham, Hochul’s team said, has also “significantly ramped up efforts to make federal funding awards available to the provider system. To date, over $78 million in federal Supplemental SAPT Block Grant funds have been made available to support efforts such as strengthening the addiction workforce, stabilizing the provider system, developing a prevention infrastructure, expanding access to medication for opioid use disorder services, enhancing recovery programming, creating transitional housing units, and promoting regional collaborations to provide more comprehensive, patient-centered care.”

The state is also in the second year of the second round of State Opioid Response Grants. A total of $56 million has been made available to expand evidence-based prevention services in high-need communities; provide street outreach services to engage those not currently in treatment; support health hubs to provide access to an array of primary and behavioral health services; develop public awareness campaigns; and fund recovery community outreach centers to support individuals in their efforts to live a healthy lifestyle.

To reduce the burden of opioid use and dependency statewide, the Department of Health collects and publishes county-level data to identify and respond to local needs, including through its quarterly reporting. The DOH also supports numerous partners and organizations that are providing treatment, training and care.

The first meetings of the advisory board have been scheduled for June 14 and 28 in Albany. The Advisory Board will soon meet to provide recommendations related to how the Opioid Settlement Funds should be allocated. These meetings will be available to the public in accordance with Public Meetings Law. The 21-member Advisory Board includes representation from OASAS, the Office of Mental Health, the State Department of Health, the Division of Budget, and 17 community members. The named community members include: Lawrence S. Brown, M.D.; Anne Constantino; Stephen Giordano, Ph.D.; Avi Israel; Suzanne G. Lavigne; Ashley Livingston; Joshua J. Lynch; Stephanie Marquesano; Cheryll Moore; Debra Pantin; Carmen Rivera; Joyce Rivera; Tisha M. Smith, Ed.D.; Dr. Ashwin Vasan; Justine Waldman, M.D.; and Kevin Watkins.

An additional appointment is pending and will be announced in the near future.

New Yorkers struggling with an addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help and hope by calling the state's toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (Short Code 467369).

Available addiction treatment including crisis/detox, inpatient, residential or outpatient care can be found using the NYS OASAS treatment availability dashboard at FindAddictionTreatment.ny.gov, or through the NYS OASAS website.

New Yorkers can learn more about the State Department of Health's latest efforts to combat the opioid effort and review county-level data at the page here. People with questions or requests for additional information should contact [email protected].

If you, or a loved one, have experienced insurance obstacles related to treatment or need help filing an appeal for a denied claim, contact the CHAMP helpline by phone at 888-614-5400 or email at [email protected].

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