Rogers Champions Legislation to Combat Substance Abuse Epidemic
Requires Massachusetts insurance plans to cover medical detox
(BOSTON) – Representative John H. Rogers (D-Norwood) joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to pass legislation that increases access to treatment for individuals confronting substance addiction and takes significant steps to combat the current epidemic.
The bill seeks to set patients on a path to sustainable recovery by both increasing access to care and improving the standard of care. Under this legislation, all insurance plans in the Commonwealth will cover acute treatment services, clinical stabilization and medical detox for at least ten days, and patients will have access to treatment without having to obtain prior authorization first. Additionally, licensed drug and alcohol counselors will be added to the list of specialists covered to allow these providers to bill insurers for their services.
“Our intent is to address the human scourge of drug addiction that ruins lives and tears our families and our communities apart” Rogers said, noting that “the drug problem also exhausts the precious resources of our law enforcement community, locally and statewide.”
The legislation gives authority to the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health (DPH) to temporarily categorize a substance as schedule I on an emergency basis to avoid imminent hazard to public safety or preserve public health. Additionally, this bill authorizes DPH to compile a list of prescription drug drop boxes and other safe locations where people will be able to dispose of excess prescription drugs.
To increase oversight and enhance the Commonwealth’s ability to respond to public health problems, this legislation increases the membership of the Drug Formulary Commission (DFC) to include representatives from the Department of Insurance, DPH, Medicaid and chronic pain and addiction medicine specialists. This Commission will also be required to recommend a list of chemically equivalent substitutions for opiates that are less likely to be abused and to encourage the prescription of abuse-deterrent medications.