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Capital NY: The Private Option, & Other Health Issues in the New Session

By Laura Nahmias, Capital NY, January 8

ALBANY—Richard Gottfried, who has been an assemblyman since 1970, makes predictions each year about the health care agenda in New York State.

As he freely admits, his guesses are often wrong.

“Every year, something we thought was nothing turns out to be the dominant topic of discussion,” Gottfried said.

Last year, the big issue turned out to be medical marijuana, which Gottfried, the head of the Assembly health committee since 1987, had been pushing for for decades.

Times-Union: NY Assembly Hears Conflicting Views on Addiction Coverage

By Claire Hughes, Albany Times-Union, 6/9/14

A discussion convened by several Assembly committees about insurance coverage for addiction treatment heated up Monday when a participant pulled out her son’s ashes.

“This is what happens in the interim of fighting for the benefit I pay for monthly,” Linda Ventura of Long Island said, referencing her inability to convince her insurance carrier to cover treatment for her son before he died of a heroin overdose two years ago at age 21.

She held up a Rubbermaid container filled with ashes for the couple of dozen participants assembled around a long table to see and demanded that Paul Macielak, president of the New York State Health Plan Association, an insurance industry group, look her in the eye as she spoke. Ventura bristled when Macielak raised a thorny question about whether insurance companies or the state will be required to pay for all physician-prescribed treatments, as is being considered under a legislative proposal.

Press wrap-up: Naloxone legislation

The State Legislature has unanimously approved a bill that would expand access to naloxone, an “opioid antagonist” that can be used to reverse an overdose of heroin.  Here are some stories on the bill, how naloxone works, and why it’s such a critical public health issue, as well as coverage of our May 7 press conference with VOCAL-NY.