August 24, 2021
Following Governor Cuomo’s resignation, Lt. Governor Hochul has an urgent, historic opportunity to save lives from the worsening overdose crisis and reverse the devastation caused by her predecessor. After years of grassroots organizing, Hochul will have a package of legislation available for her to sign that would all go towards preventing overdoses:
S1795/A533 – Medication-Assisted Treatment in Prisons and Jails.
S2523/A868 – Syringe Decriminalization and Expansion.
S649A/A2030 – Removing Prior Authorization for Medication-Assisted Treatment for people enrolled in Medicaid.
Tragically, Lt. Governor Hochul’s first hand experience with the overdose crisis is all the more reason to take action as soon as she takes office. Her nephew, Michael, died from a preventable overdose, when her nephew was blocked from enrolling in the medication-assisted treatment he needed because of barriers with Medicaid — exactly the kind of hurdles that would be resolved by removing prior authorization for lifesaving treatment with S649A/A2030.
Governor Cuomo is responsible for a syringe shortage across New York State during the pandemic — which led to HIV clusters and surging new hepatitis C infections — and vetoed a bill expanding access to treatment for New Yorkers with Medicaid creating a two-tiered treatment system. Preliminary data released by CDC last month shows over 5,100 New Yorkers died from preventable overdoses in 2020. And the threat of the Delta variant has experts fearing the preventable overdose crisis will only get worse.
With International Overdose Awareness Day at the end of the month, Lt. Governor Hochul has an opportunity to show New Yorkers their grief will no longer be ignored, and centering evidence-based solutions will be a top priority of her administration.. It’s clear that the overdose crisis impacts every area of the state, and is a kitchen-table issue. The package of life-saving bills is ready for her signature, and advocates are hopeful that New York’s next governor will take action where so many others have failed before her.
If you’d like to speak with advocates with VOCAL-NY’s Users Union on the importance of Hochul’s next steps, please don’t hesitate to reach out.