NYS OASAS 5 Year Plan – Hearing Testimony – Truth Pharm’s Submission

Dear Commissioner Sanchez,

Truth Pharm is thankful for the work that has been done and for the ways in which NYS OASAS has been attempting to respond to the overdose and addiction healthcare crisis.

We are also concerned as we move forward with several issues.

We would like to provide our input for the statewide plan here:

1. We believe OASAS should require all treatment providers to make 1 week, 1 month, 3 month, 6 month and 1 year follow-up calls to all patients who have participated in their programs. Until we start tracking the success of a person to maintain recovery AFTER discharge, we will never know the true success rates of our programs.

2. OASAS should develop an survey device to give to every single patient who engages in treatment in New York State to determine how long it took them to get an evaluation, how long it took them to receive treatment, how long they received treatment, what the barriers to treatment were, if insurance created any barriers to receiving treatment, how they were treated by the treatment providers and if they received a warm handoff to any follow-up services they needed (to name a few). This should be a survey they can fill out and drop in the mail or login online to fill out. This is a low cost way for OASAS to understand the system of treatment in NY, to monitor outcomes and determine if we are improving systems or not.

3. ALL OASAS treatment providers should be required to inform every patient of the modalities of treatment with statistical outcomes available even if that provider does not provide it. Also, all providers should be required to provide MAT and all providers should have group or treatment therapies available OTHER than 12 step models.

4. We would like to see NY OASAS embrace an integrative harm reduction therapy model where we recognize the stages of change.

5. Every treatment provider who discharges a patient for relapse should be penalized.

6. NY OASAS needs to do away with the smoking ban at treatment providers and require treatment providers to create smoking areas for patients. No patient should ever be kicked out of treatment for smoking and accommodations should be made for those who do smoke.

7. We must have longer inpatient care available for those who seek it.

8. We must have 24/7 access to care.

9. Greater access to MAT.

10. Immediate access to treatment and/or harm reduction providers through Emergency Room visits.

11. Banish all total abstinence models of treatment by our treatment providers. It should be OPTIONAL for patients to engage in a total abstinence model of treatment.

12. Require all treatment facilities, outpatient clinics and residential facilities to have all staff trained in the administration of Naloxone and to have Naloxone on premises.

13. Require all treatment facilities, outpatient clinics and residential facilities to provide patient and family or support persons with Naloxone training as well as a kit to take home upon discharge.

14. The OASAS Bed Availability Dashboard should allow for search by treatment type.

15. The OASAS Bed Availability Dashboard needs a button added to report to OASAS when a provider’s beds listed is inaccurate.

16. Of all the things OASAS can/should provide, the most beneficial may be staff that would immediately handle insurance denials so that treatment providers and/or patients are not burdened with this.

17. OASAS should constantly review the criteria that treatment facilities are using to provide medication assisted treatment (MAT). Many are not following the standard protocol for prescribing.

18. OASAS and New York State need to stop pumping funding and money solely into the system that has already failed us and explore new providers, how grassroots organizations are able to improve the issues with the epidemic and/or are already providing services without funding.

19. All treatment should be followed up with referral to recovery coaches.

20. Expansion of recovery supports within communities.

21. Drug user health supports with harm reduction in every county.

22. Harm reduction education at all treatment centers.

A reminder that it has been the grassroots organizations that have brought many of the issues of this epidemic to the forefront. Many of these organizations continue to be unfunded despite the work they have done to make our elected officials and regulators aware of the issues and to provide services within our communities. OASAS needs to invest in these organizations and break down the barriers to provide funding. They are the backbone of the communities, they are the direct link to those impacted and we continue to do the work as we see money directed towards those who have allowed our children to die. We need to be supported.

Thank you,
Alexis Pleus
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