Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent decision to veto legislation that expands access and treatment options for poor New Yorkers battling addiction flies in the face of his self-proclaimed “making progress happen” ethos.
Even worse, he signed similar legislation that applies only to commercial health insurance companies. Under other circumstances this law would represent a meaningful step forward in ending the opioid epidemic. But his failure to apply the same standard to Medicaid creates an unequal and two-tiered system.
People with means now have access – guaranteed by state law that was to take effect March 1 – to the full complement of addiction treatment medicines, on-demand and without prior authorization. Dangerous prior authorizations remain in place for Medicaid recipients and many life-saving medicines are not covered, usurping the judgment of doctors and reducing the chance for a successful outcome.
A recent study showed this bill alone would have saved nearly 600 lives and $50 million annually.
This is bad public health policy and creates a health care chasm in New York during the worst-ever crisis of overdose and addiction. The governor and legislature should do the right thing and pass and sign this bill in 2020.
Thomas Small, M.D.