Senate task force proposes 25 bills to combat heroin epidemic

By Matt Porter

May 28, 2014 Updated May 28, 2014 at 7:48 PM EDT

Albany, NY (WBNG Binghamton) After more than 50 hours of expert testimony from more than a dozen hearings across New York, a joint senate task force on heroin and opioid abuse releases their findings.

The task force announced 25 individual pieces of legislation as part of their comprehensive plan to combat heroin and other opioid abuse in New York State.

The task force spent nine weeks holding 18 meetings across New York to hear from doctors, police officers, social workers, and others involved in the fight against Heroin and opioid addiction.

Co-chair Michael Nozzolio (R-54th) said New York has not made enough of a commitment to preventing and treating addiction while targeting drug dealers peddling the dangerous drug.

"New York State government has a great system of drug treatment within state government," Nozzolio said, "But it is small and not given the appropriate amount of resource."

The new package would direct resources to education programs, expansion of treatment centers, and increase penalties for drug trafficking.

Senator James Seward (R-51st) said more needs to be done to force insurance companies to cover aggressive treatments first. Right now, addicts must fail cheaper outpatient treatments before being admitted into rehabilitation centers for further treatment.

"We would require medical directors who are trained in addiction issues," Seward said, "And treatment to be making the decision."

The task force has just a few weeks to pass the legislation through both houses before the end of the session at the end of June.