Washington State House Democrats


Critical addiction treatment bill to be signed by Governor

OLYMPIA— Washington State will take an important step to improve the treatment of substance use disorder (SUD) as Governor Jay Inslee signs SB 6228 into law. Sponsored by Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond) the bill aims to increase access to inpatient treatment and treatment medications.

For Rep. Lauren Davis (D-Shoreline), this legislation is deeply personal. “This bill closes several system gaps that my best friend Ricky (namesake of Ricky’s Law) fell through in the months before his tragic death last year,” said Davis. “Ricky got scared one night and left inpatient treatment. When he begged to go back the next day, they refused to readmit him. Then, when he tried to gain admission to a different inpatient facility, he was told he no longer qualified for treatment because he’d been sober for two weeks. He relapsed shortly thereafter. Weeks later, he again went to inpatient treatment. And a week later, the treatment agency kicked him out at 9pm at night, with no ride, no discharge plan, and no hope. Three weeks later, Ricky was dead.”

The law will:

  • Prohibit inpatient SUD providers from refusing to readmit a patient who left against medical advice.
  • Prohibit insurance carriers from considering patient length of abstinence when determining admission criteria for inpatient treatment.
  • Require inpatient SUD treatment agencies to report to DOH when they kick a patient out of treatment and why. Patient forced discharges are a rampant problem.
  • Prohibit insurance carriers from considering patient length of stay in treatment in determining continued need for care. This is intended to stop the practice of insurance carriers discharging all patients after 28 days, when some need more care than that, particularly in the era of fentanyl.
  • Require all behavioral health agencies to provide patients with education about and access to medication treatment options for opioid use disorder (OUD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD). Only 1 in 3 patients with OUD has access to treatment medications and only 1 in 10 patients with AUD has access to treatment medications.
  • Allow hospitals to bill for long-acting injectable buprenorphine (Suboxone)
  • Require training for emergency department social workers on how to use Ricky’s Law, the state’s involuntary treatment system for patients with substance use disorder. Hospitals are frequently not summoning designated crisis responders to evaluate patients in substance use crisis, resulting in one-half of Ricky’s Law beds sitting empty.
  • Prohibit insurance carriers from requiring utilization review prior to 14 days of inpatient care and no more frequent than every 7 days. This is to reduce administrative burden on providers.
  • Create a patient shared decision making tool for use in primary care, emergency departments, and behavioral health settings regarding treatment medications for alcohol use disorder

WHAT: SB 6228 signed into law

WHO: Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Manka Dhingra, Rep. Lauren Davis, stakeholders and advocates

WHERE: UW Center For Behavioral Health and Learning (On Northwest Hospital Campus), 1550 N 115th St, Seattle 98133

WHEN: Friday, March 29, 10 AM