Letter to Newsday by Kristie Golden, PhD Urges Increased Access to Treatment for Drug Addiction

February 5, 2014 – In a letter to the editor of Newsday, department administrator Kristie Golden, PhD pointed out the need for better access to treatment for people with addictions. In her letter Dr. Golden suggested that insurance coverage for addiction should be similar to coverage for other treatment-resistant diseases such as cancer. Noting that insurers are sensitive to public perception, Dr. Golden suggested that access to treatment would be increased if the stigma associated with addiction were diminished through public education.

The letter, under the headline “Don’t give up on addict treatment,” was published on February 4, 2014 in response to a recent article by Kevin Deutch linking the deaths of five Nassau residents to a bad batch of heroin laced with fentanyl. All the victims — three women and two men — were in their twenties.

The New York State Legislature is currently considering bills (A7003 and S4623) that would ensure that the need for treatment, regardless of level of care, would be determined by a health care professional rather than an insurance company. The bill is the result of a joint effort by concerned legislators, community stakeholders, and a task force of which Dr. Golden is a member. The bill is similar to a long-standing statute in Pennsylvania known as PA Act 106.