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Letter: Treatment laws aren’t being enforced

Bridgette Kurtzke, a 28-year-old from Long Island who

Bridgette Kurtzke, a 28-year-old from Long Island who died of a heroin overdose in March. She is one face of the heroin epidemic. Photo Credit: Kevin Kurtzke

Tucked into the heartbreaking story about a young woman’s lack of access to lifesaving health care to treat her addiction to heroin was the fact that Bridgette Kurtzke was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a teen [“A daughter lost to heroin,” Editorial, May 15].

A 2014 study by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said 7.9 million people had both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder.

Newsday’s editorial stated that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has created a task force on opioid addiction that will propose legislation. The fact is, we already have federal legislation, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Both state that it’s illegal to treat diseases of the brain differently from those of any other part of the body.

Before proposing bills, the governor and his task force should know that these laws aren’t being adequately enforced in New York, especially as it relates to having an adequate network of services. Insurers must provide enrollees with timely access to a sufficient number of providers included in the benefit contract.

Andrew Malekoff, Long Beach

Editor’s note: The writer is executive director of the nonprofit mental health agency North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center in Roslyn Heights.