Ross Supports Bill for Long-Term Substance Abuse Recovery

May 13, 2014

Boston- Senator Richard Ross (R-Wrentham) voted today to pass legislation to increase opportunities for long-term substance abuse recovery in the Commonwealth by supporting a continuum of care and removing barriers that stand in the way of effective treatment.

“As a member of the Senate Special Committee on Drug Abuse and Treatment Options in the Commonwealth, I have spent the past several months hearing firsthand about the ways that substance abuse devastates lives and families,” said Senator Ross. “Already, too many lives have been tragically lost to this disease. This legislation is important step towards making this issue a priority in the Commonwealth.”

In the interest of maintaining fiscal responsibility, Senator Ross filed amendments seeking to monitor and evaluate the financial impacts of the insurance benefit mandates included in the bill, prior to instituting those changes. Unfortunately, those amendments were not passed. “I am disappointed that we could not add some measures that would ensure cost effectiveness as well as long term solvency for the programs,” said Ross.

To curb the public health risk of Schedule II and III drugs, the bill requires the Drug Formulary Commission to prepare a drug formulary of appropriate substitutions, which must include abuse deterrent properties and consideration of cost and accessibility for consumers. Insurance carriers are required to cover abuse deterrent drugs listed on the formulary in the same manner that they cover non-abuse deterrent drugs and cannot impose additional cost burdens on consumers who receive abuse deterrent drugs. The Commissioner is also authorized to schedule a substance as Schedule I for up to one year if it poses an imminent hazard to public safety and is not already listed in a different schedule.

The bill strengthens the Prescription Monitoring Program by requiring physicians to receive training on the Program before renewing their licenses. It also requires them to consult with the Program before writing a prescription on an annual basis for patients who receive ongoing treatment of a controlled substance and before writing a new or replacement prescription.

In the event that a death is caused by a controlled substance, the Chief Medical Examiner is required to file a report with the FDA’s MedWatch Program and the Department of Public Health and directs DPH to review the Program upon receiving a report.

To bill also does the following to increase the quality of and access to treatment:

  • Removes prior authorization for Acute Treatment Services for all MassHealth Managed Care Entities and requires coverage of up to 15 days of Clinical Stabilization Services;
  • Removes prior authorization for Acute Treatment Services and Clinical Stabilization Services  for commercial insurers and requires coverage for a total of up to 21 days before engaging in utilization management activities; and
  • Requires all insurance carriers to reimburse for substance abuse treatment services delivered by a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor.

The bill will now go to the House for consideration.

Please contact the office of Senator Ross with any questions or concerns at (617) 722-1555 or Richard.Ross@masenate.gov.

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