New York, NY - Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) today announced that her legislation, bill A.372, prohibiting private insurance companies from imposing co-payments on every patient visit to an opioid treatment program was signed into law. This will ensure frequent co-pays no longer create a barrier to addiction care.
“More than 107,000 lives were lost nationwide last year to overdose, a figure higher than ever before, underscoring the urgent need for accessible and affordable treatment,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “When insurers require co-pays at every treatment visit, accessing these highly effective medications quickly becomes too costly. Lifesaving care must not be reserved only for those able to afford it; it must be available to all, particularly as New York State grapples with a growing overdose crisis.”
Medication assisted treatment, which utilizes FDA-approved medications to block cravings and ease withdrawal symptoms, is recognized as the most effective treatment option for people battling an opioid use disorder. Depending on an individual’s course of treatment, they may be required to make near daily visits to their treatment program, paying a co-pay each time. Some insurance companies consider addiction treatment “specialty care,” subjecting these visits to an even higher co-pay.
Between 2019 and 2020, New York State saw a 37% increase in overdose deaths, according to the New York State Department of Health.
“Frequent and burdensome co-pays should never be the reason that a family loses a loved one to a preventable overdose,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “People battling addiction shouldn’t have to decide between setting aside money for co-pays or paying their rent or buying groceries. With this law now on the books, people can continue with their treatment for as long as necessary without the worry of it becoming unaffordable.”
The legislation was sponsored by Pete Harckham in the state Senate and supported by a variety of statewide addiction treatment and recovery advocacy organizations.
“New York took a step forward in providing access to opioid treatment today,” said Allegra Schorr, President of the Coalition of Medication-Assisted Treatment Providers and Advocates (COMPA). "COMPA applauds Governor Hochul for signing A372/S5690 into law. This legislation will stop insurance companies from blocking patients’ access to opioid treatment programs through co-pays. We commend the bill’s sponsors, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal and Senator Pete Harckham, for this important legislation. Overdose deaths driven by fentanyl rose to record highs again last year. Medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder are proven effective. This measure is urgently needed.”
“With alarming rates of overdose and addiction continuing to impact New Yorkers in every corner of the State, prohibiting co-payments for treatment at opioid treatment programs is a simple way to ensure that individuals are able to access this important tool to help people achieve recovery,” said John Coppola, Executive Director of the New York Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers (ASAP). “We applaud the strong leadership of Senator Harckham and Assemblymember Rosenthal for championing this bill, and we thank Governor Hochul for signing it into law”
“During this unprecedented wave of overdose deaths, eliminating barriers to care is of utmost importance and this legislation does just that. By removing co-pays for medications to treat substance use disorder at opioid treatment programs, New York helps to ensure more people can access these life-saving treatments,” says Christine Khaikin, Senior Health Policy Attorney at The Legal Action Center.
“In an unrelenting overdose crisis, we should be ensuring every New Yorker has stable access to lifesaving methadone without burdensome financial barriers like copays,” said Jasmine Budnella, Director of Drug Policy at VOCAL-NY. “Thank you to Assemblymember Rosenthal for continuously fighting to ensure this bill becomes law.”
“The overdose crisis continues to outpace policy solutions and, tragically, New Yorkers continue to die because of barriers to receiving consistent care. The passage of A.372/S.5690 removes one more barrier to New Yorkers’ ability to access treatment for opioid use disorder and this will no doubt save lives and improve health,” said Toni Smith-Thompson, New York State Director at the Drug Policy Alliance.
“The elimination of copays will remove a significant barrier to essential care for people who need opioid treatment programs,” said Amy Dorin, President & CEO of The Coalition for Behavioral Health. “We applaud the bill sponsors, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal and Senator Peter Harckham, for their excellent work on this. It will make a huge difference in the lives of many people”.