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Heroin, opioid addiction experts speak at State Senate task force

Chris Caya
The New York State Senate Task Force convened at Erie Community College City Campus.

Experts on the heroin and opioid epidemic testified before a State Senate Task Force, in Buffalo, on Wednesday.

Horizon Health Centers President and CEO  Anne Constantino said her biggest concern is the treatment system's ability to attract enough medical professionals to combat the epidemic.

Credit Chris Caya WBFO News
Anne Constantino, Pres. & CEO Horizon Health

"We need doctors, nurses, counselors. The system is under-funded. You heard a lot of talk about unfunded mandates. Well our unfunded mandates, as well as being regulatory, are often moral. What do we need to do for somebody that is not something we can get paid do," Constantino said. 

Major changes or repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Constantino said, could mean the end of insurance coverage for addiction treatment.

"You know we could go back to the days where mental illness, depression and addiction are seen as moral problems and not covered by your insurance. Families already pay a high cost when somebody in their family gets this disease. They pay that cost in many ways. But also financially," Constantino said.

Credit Chris Caya WBFO News
Dr. Robert McCormack

Chairman of Emergency Medicine at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine, Dr. Robert McCormack said, "The opioid crisis is a behavioral, medical and societal problem that still needs a lot of resources to fix."