Nevadans and others seeking help for addiction could be privy to more information about drug and alcohol treatment providers under a bill before state lawmakers.
“These facilities are not monitored by the state nor are they required to report events such as patient deaths to any authority,” testified State Sen. Julia Ratti who sponsored the measure. “In fact, the only way such events at a privately funded, non-medical facility may come to the attention of state regulators is if a complaint is filed,” Ratti told the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Friday.
Senate Bill 457 would require non-medical substance abuse treatment facilities and mental health facilities to report deaths to the state, currently a requisite only for medical facilities.
“Right now, there’s nothing. And we’re not talking about there’s nothing for unlicensed, uncertified programs,” said Ratti. “We’re talking about there’s nothing, even if you’re talking about licensed and certified programs. So this is a first step.”
The measure would also provide on-line information to prospective clients and their families about the “track record” of treatment facilities, said Ratti.
“Nevadans would also benefit from the availability of a broader set of indicators to better understand the quality of non-medical licensed facilities,” Ratti said. “When people seek treatment for a drug or alcohol use disorder in Nevada, they should be able to make informed decisions about their options. The bottom line is that our regulatory processes should result in families having the information they need to make choices about where to receive support and services and SB 457 moves Nevada in the right direction.”
Ratti alluded to news reports of deaths at Solutions Recovery and Resolutions, both Las Vegas drug and alcohol treatment facilities owned by American Addiction Centers. The Current has reported extensively on the deaths and ensuing litigation.
“So while we need more treatment, we also need to make sure that as folks are getting into the business of providing these treatment services, that we are doing what we need to do as a state to make sure they’re qualified, they’re appropriated, they’re well-regulated,” Ratti testified.
“I know these families and their anecdotal opinion overall is they would never, ever have placed their loved ones in this particular facility had they known the history and never would have considered employing their services,” Heidi Gustafson, a treatment advocate, told the Senate Health and Human Services committee on Friday.
Gustafson said Nevada’s lack of regulation is keeping some treatment providers out of the state.
“There are for the most part good and honest providers in our state, who in fact, support this bill,” Gustafson told the committee Friday. “We actually keep some providers out of our state because they don’t want to play in these murky waters because we are just not that well-licensed and regulated.”
Gustafson says addiction treatment clients “all too often pay for something they don’t get. The expense is life-altering and many will empty their bank and retirement accounts.”
“Because those facilities are licensed, it is important that we maintain a high level of quality of the care that is occurring within those facilities,” said Stephanie Woodard of the Division of Public and Behavioral Health. Legislation “will also allow us to begin to develop, through the regulatory process, a way that we can begin to measure and report on the quality of care that is provided in those facilities,” Woodard said.
Gustafson called for greater transparency in the state’s public disclosure of sentinel events, which does not include the names of facilities.
“We would like to know where, when and why a sentinel event occurred,” she told lawmakers.
The measure would not apply to 12-step meetings.
Helen Foley, a lobbyist for senior living facilities, asked the committee to eliminate a requirement for reporting for the homes because of the high number of “anticipated deaths.”