Report Calls for Lifting Medical Treatment Ban at Rehab Facilities
State investigators are calling on lawmakers to remove a ban on health care services at residential drug treatment facilities, according to a reportÂ published Tuesday by the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes, California Watch reports.
For decades, California law has banned medical treatment at private, inpatient drug treatment facilities in large part because treatment for addiction used to be based on self-help and peer-support programs.
In recent years, experts have begun treating substance misuse as a disorder, which sometimes requires medication.
The report found that state law sometimes runs counter to requirements from health insurers and an addiction treatment facility accreditation group, which assume that patients in detoxification periods will have access to routine, on-site health care services.
According to the report, many facility operators "tie themselves in knots" trying to comply with the ban on medical treatment while caring for sick people.
The report also found that enforcement of state law by the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs has been inconsistent.
For example, 34 facilities have ignored the law and openly advertised that physicians and nurses will help clients, according to the study. In other cases, ADP was slow to act when facilities accepted clients that were too sick for a nonmedical setting, resulting in several deaths.
The report states, "Almost everyone involved in the current system of regulating residential drug and alcohol programs agrees that it doesn't work and is not good for clients."
It adds, "Many other states have long resolved such issues," noting that nine other state contacted for the report allow health care services at residential drug treatment facilities while several states require them.
Reaction to Report
Suzi Rupp -- spokesperson for ADP -- in a statement said the agency is reviewing the report. Rupp said, "The department acknowledges the critical issues addressed in this report and takes it seriously," adding, "We remain committed to protecting the health and safety of all clients served in the facilities we license and will take all appropriate action within our authority to do so."Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) in a statement said, "We need to do everything we can to ensure the protection of vulnerable clients," adding, "This report raises important questions about the regulation of our state's drug and alcohol treatment programs, and we need to closely examine how to address those issues" (Jewett, California Watch, 9/5). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.