Press Statements

Governor Cuomo’s Legacy of Failure on the Overdose Crisis is Punctuated by Deadliest Year on Record

July 14, 2021


Wednesday, July 14 2021


Jasmine Budnella,

Mariah McGough,


Preliminary Data Released By CDC Today Shows Over 5,100 New Yorkers Died From Preventable Overdoses In 2020

Over 30,000 New Yorkers Have Died From Overdose Since Governor Cuomo Has Been in Office

NEW YORK — In response to data released by the CDC today showing 2020 is the worst year  in recorded history, VOCAL-NY released the following statement attributable to Jasmine Budnella, Director of Drug Policy.

“The preliminary overdose data released by the CDC today is both heart wrenching and infuriating, and illustrates what we have been saying for years – our state is in extreme crisis. Every loss of a loved one or community member to an overdose is preventable, if there was the political will to prioritize resources and solutions.

Governor Cuomo has said he’s a leader on the overdose crisis, and he’d put his ‘administration’s record of fighting the opioid epidemic against anyone else’s,’ but the numbers don’t lie. The governor has an abysmal track record on implementing evidence-based solutions he’s promised, like Overdose Prevention Centers, and signing legislation known to turn the tide on the crisis. He has cemented his legacy of continually failing New Yorkers while thousands needlessly die year after year. 

The legislature heeded the call for urgency in session this year, and now it’s time for the Governor to do the same. If Cuomo wants to tout that he is a leader, he needs to abandon his ego and sign all three overdose prevention bills by International Overdose Awareness Day. We will expect nothing less, and will not allow him to continue to kill our loved ones.”

The legislature closed the session by passing three long overdue, life-saving overdose prevention bills: Medication-Assisted Treatment in Prisons and Jails, Syringe Decriminalization and Expansion, and Removing Prior Authorization for Medication-Assisted Treatment for people enrolled in Medicaid. 

During the height of the pandemic, Cuomo cut funding to syringe service programs and created a syringe shortage that resulted in HIV clusters and surging hepatitis C rates across the state.  Decriminalizing and expanding access to syringes by removing the limit at pharmacies is a vital public health strategy that will save countless lives. 

Syringe decriminalization and expansion bill was proposed in the Governor’s New York State’s Blueprint to End the AIDS Epidemic, and listed as a recommendation in the Joint Senate Task Force on Opioids, Addictions, and Overdose Prevention Report.

New York State has been at the vanguard of innovative policies to remove insurance barriers to address the overdose crisis. However, despite the bill to remove prior authorization for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for people enrolled in Medicaid passing with bipartisan support in the 2019 session, the Governor vetoed it January 1, 2020. He signed the identical bill to remove prior authorization for commercial insurance, effectively creating a system where poor/low-income New Yorkers get less access to lifesaving treatment. And, although the Governor promised to remove prior authorization by moving MAT drugs to a single formulary implemented in the budget, it failed to remove prior authorization for all treatments.


Recent News

Scroll to Top
Skip to content