September 6, 2017
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces New Initiatives to Combat Addiction Across New York State

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces New Initiatives to...

$25 Million Residential Center Opens On Wards Island and New Recovery Centers Open in Queens and the Bronx

New Regulations Require Insurers to Cover Addiction Treatment and Eliminate Barriers to Coverage

$300,000 Awarded to Bring Family Support Navigator Program to New York City and Long Island


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced several new initiatives to deliver new addiction treatment, recovery and support services to residents suffering from substance use disorders in underserved communities throughout New York City and Long Island. The Governor also announced new statewide guidance and regulations that will limit patient brokering and reduce barriers to insurance coverage for addiction treatment. The announcements were made at the grand opening of a new $25.6 million substance use disorder treatment center on Wards Island that will provide services for women with children, female young adults, and adults 55 and older.

"New York is committed to the fight against addiction, and with these latest investments, we are taking necessary steps to ensure individuals and families in underserved communities are connected with the resources and support services they need," Governor Cuomo said. "These new regulations and expanded services are part of our continued efforts to support New Yorkers dealing with substance use disorders, as we work harder than ever to create a stronger, healthier New York for all."

"New York State has a continuing epidemic when it comes to heroin and opioid abuse, but we have banded together from all sides and at all levels of government to fight this addiction crisis," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, co-chair of the NYS Heroin and Opioid Task Force. "I have heard from families all across the state who have felt the impact of addiction, and this administration is taking aggressive actions to provide resources and support the vital recovery of our families and communities."

Wards Island Treatment Center

The George Rosenfeld Center for Recovery celebrated its grand opening today with a ribbon cutting by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez, and Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo. The 231-bed residential substance use disorder treatment center for women and older adults is located in an historic hospital on Wards Island. The hospital was renovated using a $25.6 million capital grant from OASAS, and the facility is operated by Odyssey House.

The facility, named in honor of former Odyssey House Chairman George Rosenfeld, will combine medical and evidence-based behavioral health services to deliver a holistic continuum of care. Individually developed treatment plans will include medication-assisted treatment; counseling, group therapy and case management services; educational and vocational training; and peer-supported recovery and housing programs.

The services offered at the new facility will be customized to address the unique needs of women with children, young adult females aged 18-24, and adults 55 years of age and older. For women with children, the center will provide services, including Department of Health-licensed day care with on-site Early Head Start, to help mothers care for their children while they are in treatment. The young adult program for females will focus on helping them repair areas of their lives affected by addiction, such as school, self-esteem and family relationships. The program for older adults, many of whom have been hiding their addiction their whole lives, will address later-life challenges such as losing spouses, dealing with physical pain and the loneliness of getting older.

The George Rosenfeld Center for Recovery is located on Wards Island in the East River between East Harlem, the South Bronx and Astoria, Queens.

New Regulation and Guidance

A new regulation issued by DFS will require insurers who offer large group coverage to allow consumers to appeal coverage denials for medically necessary addiction medications when they are not on the list of covered drugs. Insurers will be issued a checklist to ensure their compliance with new rules for reviewing the medical necessity of substance use disorder medications.

DFS will also take action to instruct health insurers to help expedite medical necessity reviews in non-hospital facilities, to prevent insurers from excessively reviewing the medical necessity of opioid treatment, and to bar the inappropriate delay of coverage. This is intended to eliminate impediments to coverage of addiction services.

Additionally, OASAS will also take further action to restrict "patient brokering," where brokers collect payments from treatment providers, in exchange for referring patients to those programs. A new directive will require this service be delivered by OASAS-certified and -credentialed professionals, who are prohibited from receiving referral fees.

Recovery Centers

Two new recovery centers also opened in the Bronx and Queens. Each center received $1.75 million in funding from OASAS.

Recovery Centers offer a community-based, non-clinical setting that is safe, welcoming and substance-free. Long-term recovery is supported through activities such as skill building, recreation, wellness education, employment readiness, and other social activities. The centers also provide people and families with the opportunity to connect with others who are going through similar challenges.

The Peer Alliance Recovery Center PARC is located at 92-13 147th Place in Jamaica, Queens and operated by Samaritan Daytop Village.

The Odyssey House Recovery Oriented System, operated by Odyssey House, is located at 2038 Davidson Avenue in the Bronx. It is located within the Davidson Community Center to provide easy access to other community services such as healthcare and housing assistance.

Family Navigators

In addition, $300,000 has been awarded to three providers to establish the Family Support Navigator program in New York City and on Long Island for the first time. Family Support Navigators help families struggling with substance use disorders understand the progression of addiction and how to navigate insurance and treatment systems.

New Horizons Counseling Center and Family and Children's Association each received $100,000 to open programs on Long Island. Odyssey House received $100,000 to establish the program in New York City.

Senator George Amedore, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse said, "These new initiatives continue our efforts as a state to ensure there is proper access to prevention, treatment, and recovery services in every community so those who are suffering from addiction can more easily get the help they need."

Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal Chair of the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse said, "With the opening George Rosenfeld Recovery Center on Wards Island, 241 New Yorkers struggling with substance use disorder will have the opportunity to access treatment and comprehensive services that support their efforts on the road to recovery. These beds are vital to our efforts as a state to prevent overdose deaths and save lives. I look forward to working closely with the Administration and my colleagues in government to create even more accessible treatment options for New Yorkers who are struggling with addiction."

New York State Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo said, "Substance addiction devastates families across New York State so it is essential that all health insurers clearly understand their responsibilities to cover opioid-related treatment under the law and regulations to ensure that affected New Yorkers receive access to the recovery and support services they need. DFS will ensure insurer compliance, including during market conduct examinations, and will take action against any insurer failing to adhere to coverage requirements."

New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said, "The devastating impact of addiction is felt by people, families and communities across the state. With these new regulations, Governor Cuomo and New York State are once again setting an example for the rest of the nation, on how to expand access to treatment and save lives."

New Yorkers struggling with an addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help and hope by calling the state's toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (Short Code 467369).

Available addiction treatment including crisis/detox, inpatient, community residence, or outpatient care can be found using the new and improved NYS OASAS Treatment Availability Dashboard at FindAddictionTreatment.ny.govor through theAccess Treatment page on the NYS OASAS website. Visit the #CombatAddiction website at to learn more about how you can help to #CombatAddiction in your community. 

Visit for more information on addressing heroin and prescription opioid abuse, including a Kitchen Table Tool Kit to help start the conversation about the warning signs of addiction and where to get help. For tools to use in talking to a young person about preventing alcohol or drug use, visit the State's Talk2Prevent website.

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office