Gov. Cuomo, lawmakers agree on heroin plan, brunch bill
ALBANY – New York state may limit opioid prescriptions for acute pain to seven days as part of a broader effort to combat a significant rise in addiction and overdose deaths.
The new limit on prescriptions is one of several proposals contained in a deal announced Tuesday by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders. The full Legislature is expected to formally pass the proposals this week before ending their 2016 session later this week.
Other measures in the deal include requiring insurance companies to cover more of the cost for rehab and recovery programs, as well as enhanced treatment services. Additionally, prescribers would be required to complete addiction training and the state would increase funds for programs to help recovering addicts get housing, education and employment help.
Cuomo said the proposal will “save lives by helping ensure New Yorkers struggling with addiction have access to the services and resources they need.”
More than 1,800 New Yorkers died from heroin- and opioid-related overdoses in 2014.
The state’s recently adopted budget contains $189 million in spending on addiction treatment. The proposal now before lawmakers would outline how that money is spent. It was based on the recommendations of task forces that met with addiction experts, public health officials, recovering addicts and the family members of those lost to the disease.
“Lives are being lost and families destroyed by the scourge of heroin and opioid abuse,” said Senate Leader John Flanagan, R-Long Island.
In other legislative developments Tuesday:
-Brunch-goers may soon be allowed to buy alcoholic drinks at restaurants and bars in the state beginning at 10 a.m. on Sundays under a compromise worked out by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and top lawmakers.
The proposal, called the Brunch Bill, would allow some establishments outside New York City to begin serving alcohol at 8 a.m. up to 12 times a year. Current regulations prohibit sales before noon. Additionally, the state would eliminate some regulations and fees for alcohol manufacturers.
-The push to legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports picked up two new lobbyists Tuesday: former NFL quarterbacks Jim Kelly and Vinny Testaverde, who met with lawmakers as negotiations continue over proposals to regulate the popular online contests. The games were disrupted last year when Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said they amounted to illegal gambling.
“I’d say 80-85 percent of all my friends play fantasy sports,” said Kelly, who played for the Buffalo Bills for 11 seasons. “… In this world today, with all the things that are going on, I think we need to have a little more fun.”
Kelly and Testaverde, a former New York Jets quarterback, say the games are entertaining diversions for a wide range of fans. Both said they were paid to appear at the Capitol.
The largest commercial fantasy sports operators, FanDuel and DraftKings, agreed in March to stop taking bets in New York as lawmakers took up the issue.
-Efforts to allow Uber and Lyft to expand into upstate New York are faltering.
Lawmakers are divided over how much the app-based, ride-hailing services should be required to pay in insurance costs. A measure in the Assembly failed to make it out of committee on Tuesday after Uber itself came out in opposition to what it said were overly high insurance costs.
Unless a new agreement is reached soon, the companies may have to return to try again next year.
The ride-hailing services’ proposed expansion has run into opposition from taxi cab owners who say their industry would be devastated.