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Opioid tax? Lawmakers push back against that possibility

State lawmakers and industry trade groups on Monday pushed back against a proposed tax on prescription opioids, a provision they called “inhumane” and “bad public policy.”

The tax, which is estimated to generate $100 million, is a revival of a previous plan that had been struck down in court.

The proposal in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $175 billion spending plan is opposed by both the Assembly Health Committee chairman, Richard Gottfried, as well as Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, the top lawmaker on the Assembly Alcoholism and Drug Abuse panel.

“Opioid manufacturers helped create the overdose crisis, yet a plan to tax patients in pain and people who got hooked on opioids because of reckless marketing practices of opioid manufacturers is in the offing in the State budget,” Rosenthal said. “This is not smart budgeting, it’s not smart policy, and it must be roundly rejected.”

The tax has also reaised the concerns of pharmacy trade association groups, who argue the cost would be passed on to patients.

“New York should not be balancing its budget by inventing a tax that endangers New Yorkers in need of medically necessary prescription medications,” said Mike Duteau, the president of the Community Pharmacy Association of New York. “If this tax is enacted, it will absolutely be passed down to pharmacies and patients, essentially guaranteeing that patient access to life saving medications will be jeopardized. Patients will be unable to purchase their prescriptions or pharmacies will be unable to stock them since neither can afford to absorb this tax.”

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