California’s Legislative Reform of Addiction Treatment
In recent weeks, I’ve been following multiple California bills relating to the behavioral health industry currently under consideration. (I wrote about a recent one here and am working on several other articles about other bills.)
Earlier today, I published an article on my law firm’s website about a new law enacted in October 2015, Assembly Bill 848. AB 848 represents a major change with respect to one of the most confusing aspects of addiction treatment laws and regulations — the interplay between treatment programs and physicians.
While some of the bills currently under consideration are highly problematic for treatment programs, AB 848 is good news for treatment programs, physicians, and patients. In 2012, the California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes issued a report entitled “Rogue Rehabs” that called attention simultaneously to the safety risks for patients with medical needs and the legal violations that occurred when social model addiction treatment programs brought in doctors. Simply put, the law didn’t allow treatment centers to do the things that they needed to do to keep patients safe. Thankfully, this new law enables programs to ensure that patients get a medical screening by a physician or other appropriate health professional prior to treatment, so that their medications can be managed for safe detoxification and that patients get the oversight of health conditions they need.
Personally, I’m rooting for more smart reforms from California ahead, but worried about less-than-smart ones on the horizon. These other bills reflect an intense focus on “cleaning up” perceived problems as the industry has grown in the wake of the Affordable Care Act and Mental Health Parity Act, ranging from abusive billing and marketing practices to “clustering” and other land use issues. I encourage everyone who cares about addiction treatment to weigh in on these issues. Stay tuned for more analysis on legislative and regulatory changes ahead in addiction treatment, in California and beyond.