RELEASE: Legislation to Protect Substance Use Recovery Patients from Bad Actors Advances

AB 1158 Will Ensure Patients in Recovery are Protected Under Law

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO - In response to an 18% increase in overdoses nationwide, legislation to protect patients recovering from alcohol and substance use advances to the Assembly Floor. AB 1158, authored by Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, will protect recovering patients from abusive practices by requiring licensed recovery and treatment facilities to maintain minimum insurance coverage.   

As a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic, substance use has increased at an unprecedented rate leading to a rise in the number of individuals seeking help. Several well-documented cases have shed a light on a pattern of abuse against at-risk patients in these facilities, including serious injury and death. 

“The cycle of abusive practices in California’s substance use treatment industry is only possible due to a total lack of state regulation and oversight,” said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach). “Unscrupulous actors have been exploiting loopholes in the law, resulting in the pain and suffering of Californians in recovery. AB 1158 ensures that these bad actors are held accountable so patients can recover without worrying about their safety.”
 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of June 2020, 13% of Americans reported starting or increasing substance use as a way of coping with stress or emotions related to COVID-19. The American Medical Association reported in December that more than 40 U.S. states have seen increases in opioid-related mortality along with ongoing concerns for those with substance use disorders.

AB 1158 will require recovery residences, sober living homes, alcohol or drug abuse recovery or treatment facilities that are licensed by and contract with the government to maintain minimum insurance coverage levels. This includes liability insurance and workers’ compensation to protect patients and workers on site. Ultimately, this proposal will enhance the ability of state regulatory agencies to work collaboratively to investigate insurance complaints, protect patients and prevent fraud at these facilities and residences.

AB 1158 will be voted on by the full Assembly in late May or early June.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

“Californians seeking help for alcohol and substance use urgently need additional consumer protections now more than ever during this pandemic,” said Commissioner Lara, who leads enforcement personnel at the Department of Insurance charged with investigating fraud and abuse. “Requiring minimum insurance standards and reporting of injuries and deaths means my Department’s investigators can swiftly act to protect public health and safety.”

“We cannot allow grifters who masquerade as substance abuse recovery providers to abuse their caregiver status just to turn a profit,” said Casey Johnson, Board of Directors Member, Consumer Attorneys of California. “Californians working hard to recover from drug and alcohol addiction deserve the high quality of care they are paying for, and AB 1158 will ensure the victims of the unscrupulous ‘patients for profits’ business model can pursue justice when they are harmed or taken advantage of by bad actors in the addiction treatment industry.”

"Under our current laws, unscrupulous sober living operators are allowed to set up shop with little to no requirements for health and safety, or even basic business practices,” said Pete Nielsen who is the CEO of CCAPP. “AB 1158 will stop these operators from disregarding the safety of residents and the property of landlords by requiring that they carry appropriate levels of insurance that don't leave people in early recovery and well-meaning property owners holding the bag when things go wrong." 

AB 1158 is supported by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, California Department of Insurance and Consumer Attorneys of California, Associated Rehabilitation Program for Women Inc. California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals, Casa Palmera, City of Torrance, Community Social Model Advocates, Inc. Consumer Attorneys of California, Elevate Addiction Services, Hathaway Recovery Substance Abuse and Behavioral Treatment Center, Opus Health, LLC, Orange County Recovery Collaboration, San Jose City College Alcohol and Drug Studies Program, Soroptimist House of Hope, Inc. Stepping Stone of San Diego, the Purpose of Recovery and the Turning Point Home.