ALBANY, N.Y. – State lawmakers are detailing new legislation to fight heroin abuse in New York State.
Experts say heroin is purer and cheaper than it used to be, and it’s having deadly consequences. In 2008, 215 people died from heroin overdoses, but that number doubled by 2012, according to the State Health Department.
State lawmakers say now is the time to act.
“This is a very serious issue and no matter who you talk with, it’s all over,” Senator Kathy Marchione said. “It’s in the middle class. It’s urban, suburban.”
Senator Neil Breslin said the state needs to become more involved in heroin education.
“We’re seeing a lot of young kids get involved, and we don’t have enough insurance to cover it,” he said. “We don’t have enough education in our classroom. We don’t have public service announcements, and we have to get up to speed.”
Lawmakers will detail a legislative package during the Senate Democratic Conference Tuesday. During the conference, six bills to combat the growing heroin epidemic impacting communities throughout the state will be introduced.
The bills included increasing penalties for selling opioids that result in death, equip first responders with overdose-reversal drugs, require health insurance providers to cover rehabilitation and anti-addiction medications, create a teen heroin abuse PSA campaign and provide opioid rehabilitation services in communities.
The conference featured several state senators, Albany County law officials and a New York woman who lost her daughter to a heroin addiction.
The proposal follows a series of forums held around New York on the drug’s spread to upstate communities and suburban New York City.