RELEASE: Substance Abuse Treatment Patient Protection Bill Advances in the Senate

AB 1158 Leverages Insurance Requirements to Protect Patients

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO — In response to an 18% increase in overdoses nationwide, legislation to protect patients recovering from alcohol and substance use has passed out of the Senate Insurance Committee and Senate Health Committee with unanimous support. AB 1158, authored by Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, will protect recovering patients from abusive practices by requiring licensed recovery and treatment facilities and recovery residences contracted with the government to maintain minimum insurance coverage.

“Currently, there is no existing state law that requires a substance abuse treatment facility or recovery residence to maintain minimum insurance coverage levels — leaving patients and workers at risk,” said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach). “AB 1158 provides assurance to patients experiencing such a delicate and desperate moment in their lives and peace of mind for loved ones.”

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a precipitous rise in drug and alcohol abuse, 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. Any recovery business could reasonably have liability that a residential insurance policy would not sufficiently cover. Commercial insurance coverage that is available today is more suitable for the risks associated with this type of business.

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. With the rise in addiction, the State needs to be proactive in increasing consumer protections for recovery services.

AB 1158 will next be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“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.”

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, 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.