Legislative Alert: New California Treatment Facility Regulations

September 27, 2018

Last night, California Jerry Brown signed into law four bills relating to regulations surrounding alcoholism or drug abuse treatment facilities.

CA AB 3162: Alcoholism or drug abuse treatment facilities

Assemblymember Laura Friedman and five co-sponsors introduced AB 3162 on February 16, 2018. The bill amend Sections 11834.31 and 11834.34 of, and to repeal and add Sections 11834.09 and 11834.10 of, the Health and Safety Code, relating to alcoholism or drug abuse.

The bill reforms regulations for the licensing of residential drug and alcohol treatment facilities to enable authority for the Department of Health Care Services to ensure compliance with existing licensing laws. Under existing regulations, residential licensing does not require that services permitted under a residential license are provided solely at the location where the State license is issued, creating a loophole that some licensees are exploiting by buying multiple houses in neighborhoods, often next door to each other, and combining services at multiple addresses.

BHAP had sent out an Advocacy Alert about this legislation on August 23, 2018.

SB 992: Alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment facilities

Senator Edward Hernandez and Senator Patricia Bates introduced SB 992 on February 9, 2018. The bill amends Sections 11834.02, 11834.26, and 11834.36 of, and to add Chapter 7.4 (commencing with Section 11833.05) to Part 2 of Division 10.5 of, the Health and Safety Code, relating to alcohol and drug programs.

The bill will require all programs licensed or certified by the State Department of Health Care Services to disclose ownership or control of a recovery residence, as well as related information.

The bill also will change the definition of recovery residence to include facilities that provide residential nonmedical services for less than 24 hours in a day, thereby subjecting additional facilities to the above-referenced licensing and regulatory requirements applicable to those facilities.

Finally, the bill will require a licensee to "develop a plan to address when a resident relapses, including when a resident is on the licensed premises after consuming alcohol or using illicit drugs. The plan shall include details of how the treatment stay and treatment plan of the resident will be adjusted to address the relapse episode and how the resident will be treated and supervised while under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs, as well as discharge and continuing care planning, including when a licensee determines that a resident requires services beyond the scope of the licensee. This subdivision does not require a licensee to discharge a resident."

SB 823: Alcohol and drug treatment abuse recovery and treatment facilities

Senator Jerry Hill introduced SB 823 on January 3, 2018. The bill adds Section 11834.015 to the Health and Safety Code, relating to public health.

Section 11834.015 has the State Department of Health Care Services adopting "the American Society of Addiction Medicine treatment criteria, or an equivalent evidence-based standard, as the minimum standard of care for licensed facilities and shall require a licensee to maintain those standards with respect to the level of care to be provided by the licensee." These criteria must be adopted by January 1, 2023.

Senator Hill released a press release stating, "Senate Bill 823 is aimed at increasing oversight of a burgeoning addiction recovery industry with widely divergent methods of treatment and no current requirement for licensed facilities to use a uniform, evidence-based standard of care. The legislation addresses problems exposed by a 2017 investigative series by the Orange County Register."

SB 1228: Alcoholism or drug abuse recovery and treatment services: referrals

Senator Ricardo Lara introduced SB 1228 on February 15, 2018. The bill adds Sections 11831.6 and 11831.7 to the Health and Safety Code, relating to public health.

These sections prohibits certain entities (including licensed alcoholism or drug abuse recovery and treatment facilities) from giving or receiving remuneration for referrals, aka patient brokering. It would authorize the State Department of Health Care Services to investigate and impose sanctions for violations of this bill.

In a press release on Senator Lara's website, Lara stated, "Governor Brown's signing of SB 1228 puts substance use patients' medical need over provider profits. By taking money out of patient referrals, SB 1228 will protect vulnerable Californians from patient brokering that drives fraud and abuse."

SB 1228 was the subject of our September 6, 2018, webinar in partnership with Nelson Hardiman and Epstein Becker Green, which you can watch here.

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.

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