Vainieri Huttle, Sumter & Mukherji Bill to Create Addiction Treatment Consumer Report Card Approved by Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Shavonda Sumter and Raj Mukherji to create a consumer report card on addiction treatment providers was approved by the Assembly Human Services Committee at a special hearing at Fairleigh Dickinson University on Tuesday.

The bill is part of a comprehensive 20 bill package that was introduced in September to address the growing opiate and heroin addiction crisis.

“Selecting the most appropriate treatment provider is often a difficult and overwhelming experience, compounded by the stress of the situation,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “We need to help empower consumers to make the choice that’s best for them or their loved one and that power comes from the knowledge of knowing how successful each treatment provider is.”

The bill (A-3716) would require the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) in the Department of Human Services to annually prepare a Substance Use Treatment Provider Performance Report. The division would also be required to post a copy of the report on its website and make hard copies of the report available to the public, upon request.

Although, DMHAS currently collects and compiles the information required under this bill, and makes the performance information available on a statewide and provider-specific basis to providers in New Jersey, but it does not make the provider-specific performance reports available to members of the public.

“At the moment, objective performance information about substance abuse providers in the state is not otherwise available to consumers who are seeking substance abuse treatment services,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This will eliminate the difficulty that individuals and their family members face when trying to select the most appropriate treatment provider.”

“If this information is already being collected, then by all means it should be provided to consumers to help them navigate a difficult decision-making process,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “This bill will ensure that consumers of substance use treatment services have access to a vital tool to help them select the most appropriate treatment provider.”

The bill requires the report to:

· Compare the overall performance of each substance use treatment provider with the statewide average performance of all providers, based on nationally recognized outcome measures (NOMS) for each level of care. NOMS attempt to capture meaningful, real life outcomes for people who are striving to attain and sustain recovery and participate fully in their communities in the wake of receiving treatment for an active addiction to drugs or alcohol.

· NOMS prescribed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which provide information regarding a client’s status at admission and discharge in six critical domains of living, such as: alcohol use at admission compared to discharge; other drug use at admission compared to discharge; employment status (both full-time and part-time) at admission compared to discharge; enrollment in school or a job training program at admission compared to discharge; arrest status in the 30-day period preceding admission compared to the 30-day period following discharge; and homelessness at admission compared to discharge; and

· Any other information the Assistant Commissioner deems appropriate.

The bill was approved by the Assembly Human Services Committee and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.