Senator O’Mara hosts heroin task force in Elmira

Matt Martin
May 16, 2014

State lawmakers are looking for ways to curb the growth of heroin use in New York. Senator Tom O’Mara recently hosted a meeting of the Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction in Elmira. Matt Martin has more.

The state senate created the joint task force back in March. Lawmakers want ideas from the community on how to handle the growing use of heroin.

Senator O’Mara calls it an epidemic.

“Rural, suburban, urban, it’s effecting all of us,” says O'Mara.

O’Mara took notes as twenty-five addiction recovery professionals and local law enforcement officials shared their views.

Many of the comments centered on better funding for prevention and education efforts, stricter punishment for drug deals and training first responders.

But O’Mara says a major focus should be insurance companies. Currently, many insurances companies won’t pay for inpatient care, leaving many addicts in the street where they continue to use.

“So we’ve got to look at ways that we can allow physicians and treatment providers the ability to control the access to the treatment care and not the insurance companies," says O'Mara. 

O’Mara’s task force has held more than 20 similar meetings across the state. He plans to present a legislative package before the legislature ends its session in June.