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Certification of recovery residences goes to House

January 19, 2019

CHARLESTON — As more West Virginians enter recovery, the House of Delegates Committee on the Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse, under the leadership of Del. Matt Rohrbach, R-Cabell, is hoping to ensure sober living houses are safe spaces.

The committee passed an originating bill Thursday that requires the Department of Health and Human Resources to contract with an entity to establish and implement a voluntary certification process for recovery residences in the state.

“I don’t want to put sober living homes out of business, but I want the people that are there to be in a safe condition if the state’s going to pay for it,” Rohrbach said.

Under the legislation, recovery residences would have to be accredited using nationally recommended standards and be evaluated on the ability to help residents achieve recovery goals. The bill also ensures there is fair collection of payment.

If the residence is located within a municipality or county that requires or offers verification of compliance with building codes, the certification entity must verify compliance with the municipality or county, which must respond within 30 days of a request.

A list of certified recovery residencies will be compiled, posted online and disseminated to each state agency or vendor with a statewide contract that provides substance use disorder treatment.

Clients cannot be referred from any organization that receives state funding to uncertified recovery residences, and no recovery residence can receive state funds if it is uncertified.

The bill provides fines for violating the law.

The bill will go to the House floor, and because it is an originating bill, it can be referred to other committees by the House speaker.

The committee Thursday also passed a bill to the House floor that will allow advanced practice registered nurses, or APRNs, to provide medication-assisted treatment counseling if they obtain the proper certification.

Rohrbach said APRNs are already allowed to prescribe MAT and they approached him wanting to be able to provide more comprehensive treatment. Counseling is required when prescribing MAT.

This will also address the issue of lack of counselors in the state, particularly in rural areas.

A bill to allow addiction counseling through telemedicine was slated to go through the committee Thursday, but the meeting had to be cut short after other meetings went long.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.

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