New NY state legislation may improve drug addicts' access to treatment

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Kristin Thorne reports on the fight of one mother to get legislation passed that would make it easier for heroin addicts to get inpatient treatment. (WABC)

Nick Carbonaro's mom will tell you her son wasn't a bad person. He just made some bad decisions. After struggling with addiction for years in February he died of a heroin overdose.

"I wake him up the next morning I couldn't get him up," said Carbonaro.

Lori Carbonaro says one of the biggest obstacles to getting Nick help -- her insurance company. They consistently told her Nick didn't *need inpatient detox treatment.
If he wanted it he would first have to "fail" outpatient treatment.

"When you have that window of opportunity and they deny you that person that addict feels like they've failed even before they started to try, you're telling them no," said Carbonaro.

A bill being considered right now in Albany will help improve addicts access to treatment. Linda Ventura - a mother from Long Island - has been fighting for the legislation.

Her son Thomas died two years ago from an overdose. She too had to deal with repeated denials from her insurance to get her son into treatment.

She brings to Albany a plastic container with her son's ashes and tells legislators *this is what failure looks like.

"There's no price you can put on the life of anyone so why are they putting a price tag on the lives of addicts," said Ventura.

The bill will require insurance companies to have an addiction expert review all cases when deciding someone's course of treatment. In addition, if a person appeals a denial of treatment the insurance company will have to pay for treatment throughout the appeal process. This bill doesn't go as far as many supporters wanted but they say it's a start. The bill must pass by the 19th.

"If you believe in it, don't poo poo it, don't shut up, make the phone call, write the letter, get on the email do something about it," said Carbonaro.

Because there are thousands of other Nicks out there.

If you are a family struggling to get your loved one into treatment you can contact The Addict's Mom ( which offers free 24/7 support for the mothers of addicted children.

You can also contact Long Island-based Thomas' Hope:

Related Topics:
healthdrug addictiondrug treatmentNew York legislationSelden
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