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New state laws will impact residents

NEW YORK--As of Jan. 1, 2017 New York State has approved several new laws that will impact residents across the empire state.
The law getting the most attention has been the state's acceptance of the phased-in $15 per hour pay increase.
The $15 minimum wage legislation was passed as part of the 2016-17 state budget. The phase-in schedule on a regional basis is as follows:
For workers in New York State (outside of New York City, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties) the schedule includes:
• The state minimum wage was increased to $9.70 at the end of 2016, then another $.70 each year after until reaching $12.50 Dec. 31, 2020--after which the minimum wage will continue to increase to $15 on an indexed schedule to be set by the director of the division of budget in consultation with the Department of Labor.
For workers in New York City employed by large businesses (those with at least 11 employees), the minimum wage increased to $11 at the end of 2016, then another $2 each year after, reaching $15, Dec. 31, 2018.
For workers in New York City employed by small businesses (those with 10 employees or fewer), the minimum wage increased to $10.50 by the end of 2016, then another $1.50 each year after, reaching $15, Dec. 31, 2019.
For workers in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties, the minimum wage increased to $10 at the end of 2016, then $1 each year after, reaching $15, Dec. 31, 2021.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo also announced new health insurance reforms aimed at combatting New York state's heroin and opioid crisis. These reforms were part of the legislative package that the governor signed earlier this year. Once in effect, health insurance plans will be required to cover treatment services provided to New Yorkers suffering from opioid addiction, increase access to treatment, expand community prevention strategies, and limit the over-prescription of opioids in New York.
The legislative package included several best practices and recommendations identified by the governor's Heroin and Opioid Task Force, and builds on New York's efforts to break the cycle of heroin and opioid addiction. These new insurance-related protections are the final components of the package to take effect and include four measures to remove burdensome access barriers for inpatient treatment and medication. These measures:
• End prior insurance authorization to allow for immediate access to inpatient treatment as long as such treatment is needed: Insurers must cover necessary inpatient services for the treatment of substance use disorders for as long as an individual needs them. In addition, the legislation establishes that utilization review by insurers can begin only after the first 14 days of treatment, ensuring that every patient receives at least two weeks of uninterrupted care before the insurance company becomes involved.
• End prior insurance authorization to allow for greater access to drug treatment medications: Insurers cannot require prior approval for emergency supplies of drug treatment medications. Similar provisions that also apply to managed care providers treating Medicaid recipients who seek access to buprenorphine and injectable naltrexone took effect in June.
• Require all insurance companies use objective state-approved criteria to determine the level of care for individuals suffering from substance abuse: All insurers operating in New York State must use objective, state-approved criteria when making coverage determinations for all substance use disorder treatment in order to make sure individuals get the treatment they need.
• Mandate insurance coverage for opioid overdose-reversal medication: Insurance companies must cover the costs of naloxone when prescribed to a person who is addicted to opioids and to his/her family member/s on the same insurance plan.

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