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New York Capital Brief: September 17, 2020

Assembly Hearing on COVID-19’s Impact on Addiction Services

On Tuesday, the Assembly held a virtual hearing to discuss the impact of the coronavirus on substance- and alcohol-use disorders and access to treatment and supportive services.

“Despite this national data, we have no idea how many overdose deaths there have been in New York state since 2019,” said Assemblywoman Rosenthal. Many of those who testified said overdose deaths have not been updated by the Department since January, and accurate measures are critical to acknowledging and addressing the full impact of COVID.

Trump Releases Vaccine Distribution Strategy

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Defense (DoD) released documents outlining the Trump Administration’s strategy to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to Americans.

Although Governor Cuomo acknowledges that New York will not return to “normal” until there is a vaccine, he has announced that he will be directing the Department of Health to review the science behind any FDA-approved vaccine before recommending it for New Yorkers.

Appeals Court Upholds New York Opioid Law

On Monday, a federal appeals court overturned a ruling made by a lower-court judge in 2018 that suppressed Governor Cuomo’s newly signed Opioid Stewardship Act. This law required pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors of opioids to pay a surcharge into a special fund to help combat the costs of opioid addiction. In 2018, the federal judge struck down the law, citing its unconstitutionality. The State now has permission to collect $200M from the makers and distributors of medications that include opioids, based on each company’s 2017 and 2018 NY market shares.

NYSUT Files Lawsuit Against State Over Budget Cuts

On Wednesday, the New York State United Teachers union announced that it has filed a lawsuit against New York State over the funding cuts to schools. In August, the State informed school districts that it was temporarily withholding 20% of its payments, which adds up to over $5 billion in aid.

The NYSUT suit is seeking the release of monies withheld in July, August and September, and an injunction against future withholding or delaying of payments.

COVID & Travel Advisory Update

On June 25, Governor Cuomo, along with CT Governor Lamont and NJ Governor Murphy, implemented a tri-state travel advisory which requires anyone who is returning from a “restricted state” to quarantine for 14 days. This week, California, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, and Ohio were removed.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has lifted its directive recommending travelers coming from states with a high rate of coronavirus cases self-quarantine for 14 days to stem the spread of COVID, Governor Cuomo indicated that New York’s travel advisory won’t be lifted any time soon.