Governor Cuomo, sign the Universal Access to MAT bills!

Governor Cuomo, sign the Universal Access to MAT bills!

0 have signed. Let’s get to 200!
At 200 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!

to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo,

We are members of families that have been impacted by problem substance use.  In some cases we have lost one or more of our loved ones, in others they survive but are struggling, and some have been able to move toward health and recovery.   It is because of our experiences and our own struggles that we urge you strongly to sign 2 bills, S5935/A7246 and S4808/A2904 which address the issue of universal access by New Yorkers to medication assisted treatment (MAT), the gold standard of care for substance use disorders (in particular opioid use disorders), by removing prior authorization for all medications, and requiring Medicaid and commercial payers to include these medications in their formularies. The bills passed both houses of the Legislature this past session with either near unanimous, or unanimous bi-partisan approval, and now are waiting for your  signature or veto.

Some of us are part of organizations such as Families for Sensible Drug Policy and Truth Pharm that both provide services that reduce the harm of substance use and we work to promote policies and programs that support harm reduction.  We work to provide compassionate and non-judgmental support and care to those who are struggling with these problems and their families, and to remove the stigma and shame related to problem substance use. We recognize the many efforts and achievements of New York State in making progress in these areas and to insuring that treatment and recovery supports are available to those who need it.

Thus we are puzzled and dismayed by your hesitation to sign these bills into law, given the widespread support that they clearly have and how consistent they are with prior laws enacted by New York State during the current administration. We are told that this is in some way related to a perceived need to render some form of cost/benefit analysis regarding these measures.  Some of us have extensive histories of work in government and understand the principle of cost/benefit analysis quite well, but we ask what do costs and benefits mean in the face of death and sickness and the tragedies caused by the current opioid crisis and by problem substance use in general. What message would you give a parent, a child or any one who lost a friend or loved one to overdose who was unable to access life-saving medication while waiting for a prior approval or because that medication did not appear on a formulary—that the cost of doing this was not worth the benefit?

Along with our friends and allies, a number of us attended and spoke at multiple rallies in front your New York City office to ask that you sign this bill.   We did so because it seemed right and proper to exercise our democratic rights to advocate for legislation that we believe with our whole hearts to be right and to preserve human life, and that would help struggling individuals who were ready to find their own path to recovery. Yet we were shocked, disheartened and frankly insulted to hear your spokesperson Rich Azzopardi refer to this peaceful and orderly protest by saying “Spare me the rantings of the Advocacy Industrial Complex and whomever funds them.”

Governor, can you explain to us the gratuitously offensive tone of Mr. Azzopardi’s statement and then who exactly this ‘Advocacy Industrial Complex’ is that he is referring to?  The mother who buried two of her sons and wishes to see no more mothers have to stand at the graves of their children? The person experiencing homelessness who has found an answer in MAT, and wants others to have the same opportunity? The tireless outreach worker and counselor who barely earns enough to get by but does whatever theys/he can to keep people alive and with some hope for a better future?    We are obliged on behalf of all we advocate for and serve not just to ask, but to demand that Mr. Azzopardi apologize for the contempt that he has shown for ordinary New Yorkers, many of them the taxpayers who fund his salary and the salaries of all public servants (so many of whom have shown us great respect and decency in the past).    

It is clear that the vast majority of New Yorkers support such measures as universal access to MAT, based on the overwhelming consensus of their elected representatives.  What is most important right now is that we urge you to show the kind of compassion and caring that you speak of in public appearances (and that your late father of blessed memory was so eloquent about as well) by signing these bills as soon as possible and thus saving the lives and health of our most unfortunate New Yorkers. We welcome your response on this crucial issue through signing this bill into law.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 200!
At 200 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!