Assembly sends anti-heroin bills to Cuomo’s desk

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The state Assembly gave final approval late Thursday to a set of 11 bills aimed at fighting the state’s growing heroin problem, sending them to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk for his signature.

AssemblySessThe votes came as no surprise: Cuomo and legislative leaders held a news conference Wednesday to announce an agreement on the bills.

Most of the 11 bills deal with expanding access to treatment options. One in particular, sponsored by Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, Otsego County, and Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston, Ulster County, would require major health insurers to provide coverage for rehabilitation and detoxification programs for heroin and opiate abusers.

Other bills would create programs for abusers who need treatment but not inpatient services, and a pilot project for providing education and support for nine months after abusers complete a treatment program.

When it comes to penalties, the bills boosted penalties for pharmacists who fraudulently issue painkillers and for those who illegally obtain prescriptions from multiple doctors.

The bills were among dozens passed by Thursday by the state Assembly, which appeared poised to work through the night to complete the legislative session early Friday.

The Senate, meanwhile, was still in session as of 11 p.m., but is expected to break at some point and return to the chamber Friday to finish its work for the year. Several major votes are still outstanding, including bills to legalize medical marijuana and make changes to the state’s teacher-evaluation system.

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