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Legislature Votes to Protect Patients in Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities

For immediate release:

Action Necessary in Response to the Opioid Crisis

SACRAMENTO — Assembly Bills (AB) 919 and 920, authored by Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach), will increase protections for vulnerable patients seeking legitimate substance abuse treatment. Both bills passed the Legislature unanimously, at the end of the legislative session with bipartisan support, and will now be sent to the Governor who has until October 13, 2019 to consider legislation.

“As the opioid crisis continues to grow in California, the State legislature needs to take action on body brokers who exploit vulnerable people who are seeking recovery,” commented Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie Norris. “The many stories of abuse make it clear that the current framework has not caught up with how unscrupulous actors have been taking advantage of loopholes in the law.”

“These bills take strong steps to protect Californians from rogue operations that prey upon individuals seeking alcohol and substance abuse treatment,” said AB 920 Principal co-author state Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties). “My thanks to Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris for her leadership in this legislation, especially on the issue of drug treatment and efforts to combat the burgeoning opioid crisis. I’m proud that AB 920 incorporates and advances measures I proposed to ensure that people working to overcome substance addiction do not fall victim to fraudulent or non-evidenced-based outpatient programs that fleece patients under the guise of helping them conquer their dependencies.”

Specifically, AB 919 will require the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to establish an enforcement program to effectively prevent and stop body brokering schemes that prey on vulnerable patients seeking legitimate SUD treatment. AB 920, named Jarrod’s Law, requires outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment programs to be licensed with the Department of Healthcare Services, allowing the state to know how many treatment providers exist and where they are located, information that currently is unknown. 

AB 919 is supported by: California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals, California Medical Association, City of Huntington Beach, City of Laguna Beach, City of Mission Viejo, County Behavioral Health Directors Association and County of Orange. AB 920 is supported by: California Consortium of Addiction Programs, Professionals and California Society of Addiction Medicine and Shatterproof.



Kerry Parker, California Society of Addiction Medicine:  “The California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM) calls for the swift passage of AB 920 to address the urgent need for licensure of all outpatient alcohol and other substance use disorder recovery or treatment services programs across our state. The current lack of standards and regulations has allowed some commercial enterprises to profit from delivering sub-standard care. CSAM is co-sponsoring this bill in order to ensure that the public can receive quality treatment for addiction and related medical problems provided by licensed programs.”

Kevin Roy, Shatterproof: “Shatterproof urges the California Assembly to swiftly pass AB 920 to establish licensing standards for outpatient addiction treatment. We simply can’t let another session go by without passing this critical legislation. Those seeking treatment, their families, and those paying for the treatment need to know that the State has a minimum set of standards that include evidence-based treatment. Shatterproof is co-sponsoring this legislation to address this urgent need.”

Pete Nielsen, California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals:  "To become homeless in a strange city far from home is a fate no human being should face when trying to get treatment for addiction.  AB 919 ends the abusive practice of flying desperate people seeking help into California with a promise of housing and treatment only to find that when the insurance provider rules against medical necessity, there is no place to go and no one to turn to. We commend Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris for her leadership on this issue. AB 920 is a dramatic sea change for treatment in California. Finally, Californian's will get the protection they need when seeking outpatient treatment for addiction. At last, we can rid the system of providers who seek to do harm and discourage people and communities from embracing recovery."  

Wendy McEntyre, JarrodsLaw: These are the first steps toward our ultimate goal: all businesses and individuals licensed in the state of California, so that we have the best care, oversight and enforcement of any state.