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Details on New York’s $200M effort to fight heroin epidemic

In April 2017, Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a ceremonial bill signing on Long Island proclaiming the state would now invest $200 million a year to fight the scourge of opioid addiction in New York.

There was just one missing point: The state was already spending that much money on the epidemic.

A review by the USA TODAY Network's Albany Bureau found that despite New York's insistence that it is adding significantly more money to fight the abuse of heroin and other dangerous drugs, the state has largely just shifted funds from other addiction programs to pay for it.

"There was no infusion of $200 million in new dollars," said John Coppola, executive director of the Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Providers of New York State.

"Most of the dollars were already there, already being utilized by prevention and treatment programs, but now their emphasis shifted to address the opioid epidemic."

State officials countered that they properly moved resources amid an unprecedented surge in opioid deaths in New York and the nation, saying New York has done more than other states to fight the problem — either through legislation or funding.

But the Albany Bureau found a series of troubles with the state's efforts, which has frustrated providers and left patients struggling to find adequate help to kick their addiction and potentially save their lives.

IthacaJournal.com:
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