Historic Funding for Opioid Prevention,
Treatment and Recovery Services
On May 16, Governor Kathy Hochul 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,” Governor 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.”
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.
Commissioner of the Office of Addiction Services and Supports Dr. Chinazo Cunningham said, “I am proud to have been appointed by Governor 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 robust 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.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. 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 Governor 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.”
To provide OASAS and the State Department of Health the support they need to carry out this important work, the Governor’s first State Budget included historic investments to support the workforce and provider system and ensure equitable access to life-saving services across the State. Specifically, this year’s Budget is helping to expand access to medication through mobile methadone services, which includes adding vehicles and telehealth equipment, and developing harm-reduction services and evidence-based community interventions to engage more individuals in services.
The FY 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. The Budget would also make critical investments in harm reduction, community-based prevention, and recovery programs.
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 inter-agency 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.
Commissioner Cunningham, under the Governor’s leadership, 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 Department of Health also supports numerous partners and organizations that are providing quality treatment, training, and care. This includes New York MATTERS, an electronic referral system for connecting persons with opioid use disorder to local treatment and harm reduction services, the Local Health Department Initiative, which provides funding for 24 county health departments with the highest overdose rates outside of New York City, and over 900 registered Opioid Overdose Prevention Programs, which host training for non-medical individuals to recognize opioid overdoses and respond appropriately by calling 911 and administering naloxone, provided at no-cost. Through the Department’s Naloxone Co-payment Assistance Program (N-CAP), participants with prescription drug coverage have co-payments of up to $40 covered as part of their health insurance, resulting in no or lower out-of-pocket expenses. On the forefront of innovation in addressing the needs of New Yorkers who use drugs and lead in the distribution of naloxone to New Yorkers vulnerable to overdose, the State has worked to establish 25 Syringe Exchange Programs (SEPs) with over 81 sites statewide. These centers focus on reducing overdose by providing easy access to buprenorphine, building safety plans, and equipping participants with naloxone.
The Governor’s latest efforts aimed at addressing the opioid epidemic include announcing that the Opioid Settlement Advisory Board has been constituted and the members have been selected. 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.
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.