New California Law Requires DHCS to License Outpatient Treatment Programs, Develop Program Standards of Care

Late last Friday evening marked a significant step towards safe, properly regulated substance use disorder treatment in the state of California with the passage of Assembly Bill 920. The bill will require the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), effective January 1, 2021, to compel all outpatient treatment centers to be licensed and to utilize evidence-based treatment guidelines.

The passage of this bill comes following investigations by the media in the state that have uncovered a number of discrepancies in the treatment system. The bill calls for treatment programs to adopt the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) treatment criteria as the minimum standard of care, aiming to eliminate these shortcomings. 

“The passage of this legislation will ensure that countless patients and their families can have confidence when seeking treatment, knowing that providers will be held to a reasonable set of minimum standards that include evidence-based treatment,” said Gary Mendell, Shatterproof founder and CEO. “California has seen a tremendous disparity among treatment programs across the state, resulting in appalling gaps that leave residents more vulnerable than ever. This meaningful legislation will help protect innumerable people from being left behind.”

Authored by Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris (D-Irvine), this legislation builds on Senator Jerry Hill’s successful 2018 legislation, SB 823, which requires residential treatment facilities to utilize evidence-based treatment guidelines to the benefit of those seeking treatment, their families, and those paying for the treatment.

“As the opioid crisis continues to grow in California, the State legislature needs to take action on unscrupulous operators who exploit vulnerable people who are seeking addiction recovery,” commented Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie Norris. “The many stories of abuse make it clear that the current framework has not caught up with how unscrupulous actors have been taking advantage of loopholes in the law. I am very proud to partner with Senator Jerry Hill to fill a regulation gap through AB 920 and protect vulnerable patients.” 

 “AB 920 takes strong steps to protect Californians from rogue operations that prey upon individuals seeking alcohol and substance misuse treatment,” said state Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties). “My thanks to Assembly member Cottie Petrie-Norris for her leadership in this legislation, especially on the issue of drug treatment and efforts to combat the burgeoning opioid crisis. I’m proud that AB 920 incorporates, and advances measures I proposed to ensure that people working to overcome substance addiction do not fall victim to fraudulent or non-evidenced-based outpatient programs that fleece patients under the guise of helping them conquer their dependencies.”

 “AB 920 protects Californians from those who seek to profit from patients suffering from the disease of addiction. AB 920 is needed now more than ever in a growing overdose epidemic,” said the

California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM) in a statement. “CSAM thanks Assembly member Cottie Petrie-Norris for her leadership on this valuable legislation to protect the most vulnerable Californians.”

About Gary Mendell:

Gary Mendell is the founder and CEO of Shatterproof. He founded Shatterproof to spare others the tragedy his family suffered with the loss of his son Brian to addiction in 2011. He is a frequent speaker on how our society can end the stigma unjustly associated with addiction, has been honored numerous times for his leadership related to reversing the course of the opioid epidemic, testified in front of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis and is a frequent commentator in the media. Mr. Mendell also serves on the Executive Advisory Board of the University of Pennsylvania’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI).  He is an experienced businessman and CEO who founded HEI Hotels & Resorts and is the former president of Starwood Lodging Trust.

 About Shatterproof:

Shatterproof is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reversing the course of the addiction crisis in America. Shatterproof is focused on ensuring treatment in America is based upon proven research on and ending the stigma of addiction. The organization advocates for changes to federal and state policy, payer reform, treatment quality assessment, and provides public education through family and workplace programs.

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