, / March 12, 2024

New Legislative Efforts Tackle Substance Use: From Campuses to Workplaces and Treatment Programs

legislative vote

In the bustling corridors of the State Capitol, the recent deadline for bill introductions has sparked a wave of legislative proposals, with nearly 2,000 bills set for consideration this session. Amidst this flurry, a series of impactful measures have emerged, each targeting different facets of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and its management—from student safety and workplace readiness to the support of treatment services. Here’s a closer look at these initiatives and the changes they propose.

Campus Safety: A Proactive Approach to Opioid Overdoses

One of the noteworthy bills, AB 1841 by Assemblymember Weber, sets its sights on enhancing safety within the student housing facilities of community colleges and CSU campuses. The bill mandates these institutions to stock federally-approved opioid overdose reversal medications, specifically through the Naloxone Distribution Project. It goes further to require training for residential staff on administering these life-saving medications, reflecting a broader commitment to harm reduction and student well-being in California’s public university system.

Workplace Safety: Naloxone in First Aid Kits

Expanding the scope of naloxone accessibility, AB 1976, championed by Assemblymember Haney, seeks to make this critical overdose reversal medication a staple in California workplaces. By integrating naloxone nasal spray into first aid kits, this bill aims to equip workplaces with the necessary tools to respond swiftly and effectively to opioid overdose emergencies, thereby enhancing safety and preparedness across various work environments.

Advancing Expert-Matched Health Care Reviews

Senator Cortese’s SB 999 is a legislative initiative set to enhance the integrity of health care utilization reviews by revising the Health and Safety Code and the Insurance Code, ensuring that such assessments are undertaken by a reviewer with equivalent specialty expertise as the requesting provider. This alignment of qualifications, aimed at improving the relevance of care authorization decisions, is complemented by SB 999’s requirement for health plans and insurers to offer dedicated telephone support during California business hours for mental health and Substance Use Disorder (SUD) care authorization. Moreover, the bill enforces transparent communication from reviewers by mandating the disclosure of the specific clinical guidelines informing any denial of coverage, thus promoting a culture of transparency and accountability within the health care system.

Rethinking School Discipline for Substance Use

Lastly, AB 2711 by Assemblymember Ramos introduces a compassionate approach to handling substance use incidents in schools. Moving away from punitive measures like suspensions and expulsions, this bill advocates for comprehensive plans that provide education, treatment, and support for affected students. It emphasizes a youth-informed strategy that addresses substance use with understanding and support, rather than punishment.

As these bills navigate through the legislative process, they collectively highlight a multi-faceted approach to addressing SUD in California. From ensuring the safety of students in their living quarters to preparing workplaces for potential emergencies, and demanding greater accountability from health plans, these measures reflect a comprehensive strategy to combat substance use and its associated challenges. As the policy and budget committee hearings progress, these initiatives will undoubtedly play a significant role in shaping California’s response to the ongoing issues related to substance use and recovery.