House passes bills to expand drug treatment

February 27, 2019 GMT

CHARLESTON - The West Virginia House of Delegates on Monday passed two bills and amended another relating to substance use disorder and treatment.

Delegates passed House Bill 3132, which exempts certain providers from some of the medication-assisted treatment licensing requirements, and House Bill 3133, which will require probationers with history or symptoms of addiction to attend support services for at least 60 days.

HB 3132 will exempt those providing medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, to no more than 30 patients from the registration requirement.

The goal, as bill sponsor Del. Matt Rohrbach, R-Cabell, has said, is to encourage more primary care doctors in rural areas of the state to provide substance use disorder treatment. Rohrbach said previously rural doctors told him the registration requirements were too tough for small offices to comply with.

The bill still requires doctors attest to the Department of Health and Human Services to providing service. They must still provide counseling and drug screens, as well as implement diversion control measures. The bill was amended to add doctors must also complete medical training encompassing all aspects of MAT.

The amended bill also exempts licensed behavioral health centers from the registration requirements.

HB 3133 will allow a new probationer that has been determined through the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals’ risk and needs assessment to have a history of substance abuse to participate in an appropriate support service for a minimum of 60 days.

As explained by Del. Brandon Steele, R-Raleigh, the bill is purposely broad to allow a probation officer and the probationer to decide what support service is best for them - from a support group to substance use disorder treatment.

The House also passed a committee substitute for House Bill 2991 to third reading. The bill authorizes the continuation of the Ryan Brown Addiction Prevention and Recovery Fund, which is now depleted.

The bill requires the proceeds from any settlement or judgment with a drug manufacturer, a drug wholesaler or a retailer with the attorney general, on behalf of his or her office or on behalf of any state agency, to be placed in the fund. The bill was amended to allow state agencies to recover any reasonable administrative costs, contractual damages, or expenses incurred in the pursuit of the litigation prior to the proceeds being transferred to the fund.

The bill also allows the state Office of Drug Control Policy to continually assess the state’s system of addiction treatment and identify any gaps.

The bill will be up for passage Tuesday.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.