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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 23, 2018 02:28 PM
From: Senator Lisa M. Boscola
To: All Senate members
Subject: Age of Consent for Treatment of Substance Use Disorder
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation amending the state’s Drug and Alcohol Abuse Control Act to further provide for a parent or guardian’s authority to provide consent for the medical treatment of their minor child.

The bill expands the Act so that a parent or guardian may intervene in instances of dangerous, harmful controlled substance use among adolescent children. Juveniles are far more susceptible to the development of dependency or addiction challenges.

In a recent Senate Democratic Policy hearing, experts testified to the various nuances of assessing - and treating - substance use disorders in individuals. It was also reported through this hearing that 10-20 overdoses can be seen per day in our emergency rooms.

Individuals under 18 may not always exhibit the full capacity to make the most appropriate choices for their own course of treatment as it relates to a substance use disorder. As we continue to tackle the Commonwealth's dire opioid crisis in ways such as the recent statewide emergency declaration, legislators must consider strong courses of action that families can utilize to safeguard their children from serious self-injury - or even fatality.

This legislation will give the parents and guardians of minors another tool in their proverbial toolbox. In addition to the child’s right to consent, the parents and guardians would also have the right to consent for treatment on the behalf of their minor child. It also clarifies that access to their protected medical records may be disclosed only to: medical personnel for diagnosis and treatment; the parent or guardian of a minor; and to the government for the purpose of obtaining benefits due to the patient.

The legislation is similar to a bill the Senate Health & Human Services Committee amended this session, House Bill 17 of the 2017-18 session.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as SB1025