Lawmakers: Treatment Laws Need to Reflect Recovery Realities

(File photograph)

Rallying with people in recovery, their families and friends, and advocates for people who struggle with addiction, state lawmakers on Monday called for the state’s laws around treatment and recovery options to keep pace with developments in science and research.

As part of the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery’s annual Recovery Day event, Sen. John Keenan of Quincy and Rep. Tami Gouveia of Acton spoke to a group of hundreds about the possibilities for recovery and the ways state government can try to respond to the opioid epidemic and the growing need for treatment options.

Gouveia and Keenan each touted legislation that they said would help make treatment more accessible and give recovery a better chance of taking root by requiring private insurance companies to cover up to 30 days of addiction treatment.

Under current law, they must only offer coverage for 14 days, which supporters say does not allow users enough time to complete detox programs and enter the next phase of treatment.

“When a person in the early stages of recovery is ready for additional treatment but is told by an insurance company they won’t pay for it, that is just wrong,” Keenan said. “The days and weeks immediately after detox are vital and it is time we require private insurance companies to provide coverage for at least 30 days of treatment.”

In 2014, the Legislature passed a bill allowing individuals to get up to 14 days of acute addiction treatment covered by insurance without first seeking authorization from the carrier. The Senate’s original version had called for 21 days, but lawmakers settled on 14 in a compromise with the House.

Keenan has said public insurance already offers greater coverage: MassHealth covers up to 90 days of treatment through the Residential Rehabilitation Services Program, and his bill would bring private insurers slightly more in line with that standard.

The legislation, filed by Keenan and Rep. Liz Malia of Jamaica Plain, had a hearing earlier this month before the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery.

Comments are closed.