© 2024 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Heroin task force proposals include ideas to get people into treatment faster

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News File Photo
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (right) and the heroin task force traveled to Syracuse and other places around the state to hear ideas for recommendations on how to help fight heroin in New York state.

Among the recommendations of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s heroin task force are a few ideas to improve access to treatment.

One idea would end prior authorization. That’s when patients must first get approval from their insurance before they’re admitted to treatment.

Rob Kent, general counsel to the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, said the panel heard from a lot of people who wanted help with their addiction, but had to wait.

"We've heard examples of people sitting in a waiting room for up to six hours. I mean at that point, you’re in the early stages of withdrawal from the heroin and opioids."

Kent said sometimes, after waiting for long periods, people then decide to not get help. He said ending prior authorization is a way to get people into treatment faster.

"Clearly there should be some review at some point. But let’s get people engaged in treatment and make determinations as we’re helping them get better."

Treatment centers would still have to use approved state criteria before admitting someone. Kent said they want to take patients out of any disputes over payment.

Any disputes over what recommendation to make law should surface soon. The legislative session ends Thursday, June 16.