New Legislation to Support Struggling Families

NEWBURGH – US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced new bi-partisan, federal legislation that would help families of addicted persons by providing $25 million in grants for non-profits and community based organizations that provide addiction recovery services.

Gillibrand was at the Cornerstone Family Health Center’s addiction recovery center in Newburgh on Friday to announce her Family Support Services for Addiction Act, which would provide $5 million per year, over five years, to addiction recovery services, increasing families’ ability to receive treatment without worrying about insurance, increasing medication assistance availability, staffing, outreach programs – funding for virtually anything addiction recovery organizations need, including covering costs of services they already offer.

“To help their loved ones suffering from addiction, families need support,” said Gillibrand.

“They need access to resources. They need evidence-informed medical and treatment information. They need referrals to credible and helpful treatment providers, and they need support groups. They need assistance navigating these cumbersome and difficult insurance processes. They need to prevent them from going into debt for paying for their family members’ treatment,” she said.

When it comes to addressing the needs within the Hudson Valley, Cornerstone Family Health President and CEO Linda Muller said its staffing and having the availability of professionals with the proper certifications to do things, such as being case workers, or providing medication for medicated assisted treatment, as not all doctors can prescribe medications like methadone and Suboxone.

“If you want to lift the biggest barrier there is to increasing programmatically for any substance abuse treatment program, it’s getting the right staff,” said Muller. “I look at my colleagues in the room and we’re all competing for the same group of people; so, for workforce development we need more CASACs (credentialed alcoholism and substance abuse counselor). For every CASAC I bring on, I can bring on 50 more patients who can be supported. There is not enough infrastructure to get the people through the doors because we don’t have the appropriate staffing to build the practice,” she said.

Muller added they currently have a waiting list of 150 people. Also, Michele McKeon of RECAP and CEO of Catholic Charities of Orange and Sullivan, Dean Scher, said they have different needs. Whereas, they have availability for new patients, they need more outpatient services and adequate housing stock for recovering individuals once they are out of their respective programs.

Through the bill, allocation of federal grant monies would be determined by the state, where the state would determine which programs have the most need.

Gillibrand said if the bill passes and its efficacy is proven, the amount in federal funding could likely be increased.

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