AB 1158 Puts Patients Before Profits
SACRAMENTO – After one scheme out of Orange County ran up $60 million in fake charges before investigators at the California Department of Insurance stopped it, both houses of the California Legislature have passed legislation authored by Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris to protect patients recovering from alcohol and substance abuse. AB 1158 requires minimum insurance coverages for substance use treatment centers and recovery residences. The coverage will require them to live up to higher standards that protect patients from abuse or injury. The Governor has until October 10, 2021 to sign or veto bills.
“Recovery patients are desperate for help but too many bad actors in the recovery industry care more about their profits – all too often leading to fraud, relapse and even death,” stated Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach). “AB 1158 ensures that patients and workers are provided an extra layer of protection in light of the rampant fraud and abuse that occurs in this space.”
"It is critical that we act now to protect Californians seeking help for alcohol and substance use without having to worry about their own safety", said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. "AB 1158 will require treatment facilities and recovery residences maintain minimum insurance standards to create a safer environment for vulnerable people in recovery, especially during these pandemic times."
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, substance use has increased at an unprecedented rate. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that drug overdose deaths rose by close to 30% in the United States from 2019 to 2020, hitting the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded. 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 Covid-19 pandemic has unfortunately played a startling role in driving more patients to seek assistance for substance abuse treatment.
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. 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," said Pete Nielsen, CEO, California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals.
AB 1158 is supported by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, California Department of Insurance and Associated Rehabilitation Program for Women Inc. California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals, California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies, 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.