OLYMPIA—Today the Washington House of Representatives gave final approval to House Bill 2642 by Rep. Lauren Davis (D-Shoreline).
The legislation prohibits health insurance plans offered to public employees, Medicaid enrollees, or those on the commercial market from requiring prior authorization for admission to residential substance use disorder treatment or withdrawal management (detox) services. It also directs the Health Care Authority to develop an action plan to improve the transition of clients between levels of care, allowing clients to move directly from hospitalization or incarceration to treatment.
“This represents a seismic shift in our substance use disorder system of care. It is imperative that we take advantage of the window of willingness when a person in active addiction makes the courageous decision to choose treatment. If we fail to provide these individuals with access to care within that window, we may never have a second chance,” said Rep. Davis.
“Families pray for the day when their loved one in active addiction finally asks for help. Then, they’re told to wait weeks or months for an assessment, insurance pre-authorization and a bed date. People are dying of preventable overdose from a treatable brain disease because we fail to provide them access to care when they need it most. When we provide rapid access to addiction treatment, recovery happens,” she continued.
The legislation is supported by the Association of Alcoholism and Addiction Programs of Washington State and four of the state’s managed care organizations that provide health coverage for Medicaid recipients, including Amerigroup, Coordinated Care, UnitedHealthcare, and Community Health Plan of Washington.
The House and Senate health care committees heard heart-wrenching testimony from parents whose children died when they were not able to get the help they needed during their window of willingness.
The bill passed with a unanimous final House vote following unanimous passage by the state Senate. The House initially approved the legislation with a near unanimous vote of 94-4. It now heads to Governor Inslee’s desk for his approval and signature.