Legislation sponsored by N.Y. Sen. Pete Harckham (D-District 40) that would eliminate disparities in care for substance use disorder treatment advanced the state Senate Tuesday.
The legislation was part of a bill package to address healthcare inequities across the state.
Harckham’s bill, S.679A, establishes a council for treatment equity within the state’s Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) to address substance use disorder treatment disparities amongst vulnerable populations.
“There should be no hurdles or impediments for people with Substance Use Disorder when they need assistance—just sincere compassion and real help,” said Harckham, who chairs the Senate Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. “The new legislation that was passed will help ensure the best level of care is available to everyone in the state regardless of their race, religion, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or socio-economic status.”
Harckham’s office said that disparities in the quality and access to healthcare continue to harm those struggling with substance use disorder for those in certain vulnerable populations. The treatment equity council would focus on communities that have experienced injustices due to race or any other status or communities where the non-white population is 40 percent or more.
Harckham said that developing policies and programs that consider cultural differences that guide decision-making and language needs is also important.
The 13-member treatment equity council will analyze collected data to determine the causes of treatment disparities, implement strategies to widen treatment in vulnerable communities, conduct outreach programs for people with substance use disorder, and review laws limiting the ability to reach treatment equity.