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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: November 18, 2021 02:22 PM
From: Senator Judith L. Schwank
To: All Senate members
Subject: Treatment Centers & Recovery Homes
An estimated 100,000 Americans have died of drug overdose in one calendar year, a never-before-seen milestone that’s causing new alarm over the nation’s addiction crisis. The opioid overdose epidemic is one of the worst public health crisis that Pennsylvania has experienced. 
The number of overdose deaths in Pennsylvania jumped 13.1 percent in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and the commonwealth had the fourth most deaths of any state in the nation.  According to data released Wednesday, November 17th, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5,410 Pennsylvania residents died of an overdose from May 2020 to April 2021. Only California (10,585), Florida (7,892) and Ohio (5,585) reported more.

In the near future, I will be introducing two pieces of legislation that are intended to provide critical and timely information regarding substance use disorder treatment centers and recovery homes.  I hope that you will join me in sponsoring these important pieces of legislation.

Document #1

Introduced as SB976

Description: The first bill provides critical and timely information to those potential patients who are evaluating treatment centers or recovery homes and encourage treatment facilities and recovery homes to follow medical best practices. When someone suffering substance use disorder agrees to seek treatment, there is a limited time window to admit him or her to a facility.
Currently, it is extremely difficult for those potential patients who are evaluating treatment centers or recovery homes to find critical information required to make the best decision. This bill will provide critical and urgently-needed information to those potential patients who are evaluating treatment programs as well as direct public expectations to the use of or deviations from evidence-based practices by those seeking treatment.
It requires the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) to distribute an annual survey to all substance use disorder treatment centers and recovery homes operating in PA, record, and publish (online) for public access the responses provided by those treatment centers and recovery homes. If a treatment center or recovery home fails to respond to any survey question or the entire survey, DDAP will publish (online) “failed to respond” next to the name of the treatment center or recovery home or the question to which they failed to respond. The results of this survey will be presented in an easy to understand format and be readily available to the public.

Document #2

Introduced as SB975

Description: The second bill would prohibit any treatment center in Pa to refuse admittance, or for any health insurance company operating in PA, to refuse coverage for admittance and provision of medical and psychological services, to anyone reporting to a treatment facility requesting medical or psychological services addressing substance use disorder, regardless of whether or not he or she is under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he or she reports for medical or psychological services.
We have been told that insurance companies often turn this standard on its ear and have implemented an unwritten policy that those who report to a treatment facility requesting treatment, while not under the influence of an illicit drug, may be refused coverage for treatment. Insurance companies have determined that providing treatment to those in a sober state suffering urges to relapse is not medically necessary.