Town Hall on opioid crisis highlights financial burden

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Congressman Joe Morelle and New York State’s superintendent of financial services were in Irondequoit for a town hall on the opioid crisis.

It was an opportunity to highlight the toll the epidemic takes not only on families — but also finances.

This is the first of their many town halls that are taking place across the state.

The Department of Financial Services has determined that New Yorkers have overpaid an estimated $2 billion in insurance premiums over the past 10 years.

This over payment is due to the costs associated with opioid manufacturers misrepresenting the safety and efficiency of opioids.

Department of Financial Services Superintendent Linda Lacewell said her investigation is focusing on the pharmacy benefit managers — who are third party administrators or the “middlemen” between opioid manufacturers and insurers.

Meanwhile, a local couple who lost their son to opioids spoke out one less public way the crisis impacts families.

“I’ve seen so many requests for money for funerals because people can’t afford it. You don’t plan on your child dying before you,” Mary Mullin said.

Her husband, Joe Mullin echoed her sentiments.

“We have an opportunity — it’s in our town of Irondequoit. If we don’t speak up, who will?”

Lacewell said her office is pursuing fines of up to $5,000 per fraudulent claim for the insurance companies that they regulate.

“What this is doing in people’s lives that can get elevated into state government and we can help to come up with solutions to try to alleviate the suffering,” Lacewell said.

According to the Monroe County Opioid Task Force, there were 77 total overdoses last month, nine were fatal.

Since January of this year, there have been 720 total overdoses in Monroe County — 107 of those, fatal.

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