ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
October 11, 2019
The scope and scale of America's opioid crisis is staggering, and thousands lose the battle with opioid addiction each year in California alone.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 130 Americans die from opioids every single day. Far too many of us know and love someone in our community or family who has suffered the consequences.
While there are good actors who are doing positive work for those seeking recovery, a number of unscrupulous operators have been exploiting patients to reap high profits. The story is all too familiar:
- Large pharmaceutical companies engage in deceptive marketing practices-taking advantage of an already at-risk community afflicted by opioid addiction
- Entities purchasing "out of network" insurance policies for a patient, thus driving up their cost of insurance by the thousands
- Unscrupulous rehabilitation centers that profit from the billing of those insurance policies and then "curb" a patient after 30-60-90 days - when insurance runs out, further exacerbating California's homelessness crisis
- Doctors who knowingly overprescribe these drugs to those susceptible to addiction
These unethical activities perpetuate a cycle that encourages relapse and sometimes ends in patient death. The courage needed to seek treatment and recovery must not be exploited by those operators patients and their families place their trust.
This is an emergency. And we must act now.
The Legislature has taken significant action to further address this crisis.
I have authored two bills aimed at strengthening oversight of substance abuse treatment facilities, AB 919 and AB 920. These measures would establish greater regulation of treatment providers and facilities to crack down on the systematic abuse of patients seeking an end to opioid addiction.
The simple fact is that our regulatory framework has not caught up to the scope and scale of this crisis.
Acknowledging this, the Legislature passed both bills after months of hard work and with strong bipartisan support. Now we must urge Governor Newsom to sign both of these important bills into law.
By signing these bills, Governor Newsom could usher in the same kind of legislative protections for people battling addiction that are in place for patients facing other medical challenges. The time has come.
Note: The Governor has until October 13th to take action on Legislation.