SJR 318: Joint Subcommittee Studying Strategies
& Models for the Treatment & Prevention of Substance Abuse in
August 26, 2009
The first meeting
of the interim was held at the General Assembly Building in Richmond.
Faces and Voices of Recovery
Ms. McDaid spoke on the implementation of the Paul Wellstone
and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.
Ms. McDaid explained that the Act mandates nondiscriminatory addiction
and mental health coverage under employer-based health insurance plans,
SCHIP, and Medicaid. While the Act does not require that all health insurance
plans include additional mental health benefits, the Act will require
that plans offering addiction and mental health coverage must do so in
a nondiscriminatory manner so that co-pays, deductibles, day and visit
limits, and annual and lifetime caps must be the same as those for medical
and surgical benefits. The Act establishes a basic requirement for coverage
that will preempt weaker state laws but will not interfere with state
laws that require more comprehensive coverage.
the Act can be expected to provide several benefits to states including:
- Reduced cost shifting
from the private to the public sector.
- Increased access
to treatment services.
rather than criminalization of behavioral health conditions.
- Reduced collateral
costs of untreated addiction.
- Increased private
investment and innovation in treatment services.
Ms. McDaid noted
that draft federal regulations are currently circulating amongst impacted
federal agencies, and that final regulations are expected by October 3,
2009. The requirements of the Act will become effective on January 1,
2010, regardless of whether final regulations have been promulgated. To
prepare for implementation, and to ensure that the state is able to take
full advantage of the benefits offered by Act, Ms. McDaid suggested that
the state should:
- Prepare a detailed
analysis of how Virginia's law and the federal parity law differ.
- Coordinate implementation
planning with the Bureau of Insurance, the Department of Behavioral
Health and Developmental Services, the Department of Medical Assistance
Services, and other impacted agencies.
- Provide advance
guidance to treatment providers, counselors, and state managed care
contractors on what is expected of them under the new law.
- Inform consumers
of their new rights and benefits based on the proposed state implementation.
National Assoc. of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors
Mr. Harwood discussed recent studies of the economic impact of substance
abuse and substance abuse treatment activities. Mr. Harwood noted that
costs associated with alcohol may run as high as $243 billion nationally
and $6 billion in Virginia, and that costs associated with illicit drug
abuse may run as high as $181 billion nationally and $3.5 billion in Virginia.
Mr. Harwood also
provided information on cost offsets and the economic benefits of treatment
and prevention activities.
Faison, Virginia Association of Community Services Boards
Ms. Faison spoke on the impact of substance use disorders in Virginia,
treatment efficacy and capacity, the need for effective treatment strategies,
incorporation of evidence-based practices in Virginia's treatment and
prevention systems, funding, services, costs, and funding options for
prevention and treatment in the Commonwealth as well as information about
prevention activities. She noted significant waiting periods for services
in the Commonwealth (an average of 25.4 days for treatment services).
Ms. Faison also described the need to shift from an acute care model of
intervention and services to a chronic disease/recovery management model.
She stated that successful prevention and treatment interventions are
less costly to the Commonwealth than the potential negative effects of
failure to provide prevention and treatment interventions.
Ms. Faison suggested
increasing funding by establishing a Substance Abuse Treatment and Prevention
Fund to be funded by a percentage of net profits realized by the Alcoholic
Beverage Control Board, or through allocation of revenue realized by new
ABC stores and Sunday openings of ABC stores for prevention and treatment
services. Ms. Faison also suggested increasing user fees on alcohol products
and allocating these funds for prevention and treatment activities.
Discussion of Work
The joint subcommittee
discussed draft work plans developed by the Treatment and Recovery Model,
Prevention, and Prescription Drug Abuse Work Groups. The joint subcommittee
approved these work plans with limited changes. The work groups will continue
their work as described in these plans, and will report to the full joint
subcommittee at the next meeting of the full joint subcommittee.
The next meeting
dates will be posted on the joint subcommittee’s website and the
General Assembly calendar as soon as information is available.
The Hon. Emmett
W. Hanger, Jr.
Robie Ingram, DLS Staff
of Legislative Services > Legislative
Record > 2009