Advocacy Alert: California, New York, and Federal Issues

May 17, 2018

The ongoing issues regarding recovery residences and certification are being looked at in both California and New York as well as at a federal level. Meanwhile, similar bills in the House and Senate threaten the privacy of treatment facility patients. Here's where the Behavioral Health Association of Providers stands on these issues.

CA AB 2214: Recovery Residences Certification

The California state legislature is considering a bill to create a certification process for recovery residences in the state. AB 2214 would allow the Department of Health Care Services to approve a certifying organization that would administer the application, certification, renewal, and disciplinary processes for recovery residences.

The proposed law sets forth certain requirements for certified facilities, including a zero tolerance policy for drug or alcohol abuse, resident participation in recovery programs, and good neighbor policies. Certified facilities would also be subject to annual inspections to ensure compliance with certification requirements. The current version of the bill would require that the owner or operator of the facility complete a minimum of 10 hours of alcohol and drug free program management education and that at least one resident or onsite staff member complete a minimum of 10 hours of recovery specialist training, which would include subjects on ethics, health and safety, and emergency planning procedures.

Starting in 2020, state and county agencies, state and county contracted vendors, certified alcohol and drug counselors and other licensed professionals, and judge or parole boards in California would be required to first refer a person to a certified recovery residence. Referrals to non-certified recovery residences could only be made if it was determined it would be in the best interest of the potential client and notification to the Department would be required. This proposed referral restriction is unique to California – most other states limiting referrals to certified or licensed facilities do not offer a choice for specified providers to refer to non-certified facilities if they deem it to be in the client’s best interest.

BHAP supports these efforts to add legitimacy to treatment facilities, and asks California residents to contact either Assemblymember Melissa Melendez or Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez, who introduced the bill, or the bill's co-author Senator Pat Bates.

Find your representative here in order to show your support of this bill.

For more information on the current laws governing treatment programs and sober living facilities in California, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions for the state.

NY SB 8649: Alcohol & Drug Free Housing Certification

Last week, the New York state legislature began considering a bill (SB 8649) that would create a voluntary certification process for alcohol and drug free housing.

The stated justification for the bill is as follows: "It is incumbent upon the State of New York to make sure that the facilities offering care to [persons who are enrolled in outpatient treatment or recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction] who can easily be taken advantage are following rigorous standards and guidelines for resident care. By providing for a certification program, people will know which sober living home operators have made it a priority to become certified under the new State guidelines." (2017 New York Senate Bill No. 8649, New York Two Hundred Forty-First Legislative Session.)

Under the proposed rules, referrals from state agencies or vendors with state contracts would be limited to certified facilities. Though changes are likely, the current version of the bill would have the state itself doing the accreditation, rather than outsourcing the certification process to an outside agency, like a NARR affiliate. Unlike mandatory schemes, like the one recently passed in Arizona, non-certified facilities in New York would be allowed to operate and, unlike other states with so-called "voluntary" programs, the restrictions for certified facilities only relate to limited subset referrals - not, like Florida, which limits referrals from any licensed treatment facility to certified sober living facilities. Under the New York law, there would also be a voluntary training and accreditation program for the operators of the alcohol and drug free housing seeking certification.

BHAP supports these efforts to add legitimacy to treatment facilities, and asks New York residents to contact either the bill's sponsor, Senator Terrence Murphy, or your local representative. Find your representative here in order to show your support of this bill.

For more information on the current laws governing treatment programs and sober living facilities in New York, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions for the state.

Federal HR 5100: Recovery Home Certification

Meanwhile, the federal government is still considering the "Recovery Home Certification Act of 2018," also known as HR 5100, which would establish criteria for recovery home certification and award grants to states that operate recovery homes on the model criteria. The criteria to be developed would include minimum staffing requirements, qualifications for employees, and required policies and procedures. The proposed law would also add to the United States Code certain prohibitions against referring an individual with a substance use disorder to a recovery home or clinical treatment facility in exchange for money or anything of value.

BHAP has no official stance on this regulation.

HR 3545 and HR 5795: Protecting Patients' Privacy

Finally, BHAP is against similar laws making their way through the House and Senate, titled the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act. Both HR 3545 and
HR 7595 set to amend the Public Health Service Act.

This would dismantle the critically important 42 CFR Part 2 confidentiality protections. The exceptions this bill would make to the current health law relates to the confidentiality of health information. BHAP doesn't want patients' information shared for purposes of treatment, payment, health care operations or for any other purpose beyond current rule without our express written consent.

BHAP urges you to contact your US House Member and Senator and request that they oppose this act. Find your representative here in order to show your opposition to these bills.


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