CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Officials with the state Department of Health and Human Resources are planning to evaluate where substance abuse treatment facilities are most in demand in West Virginia before moving forward to meet the bed space requirements of HB 2428.

The Legislature finalized the bill dealing with substance abuse treatment availability on Saturday, the last day of the 2017 Regular Legislative Session.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Governor Jim Justice had not taken action on the bill.

“It’s a small first step,” said Delegate Andrew Robinson (D-Kanawha, 36) one of the sponsors of earlier legislation whose provisions are part of the final bill.

“I think it’s a good first step for us to get started.”

By July 1, 2018, it requires DHHR to ensure that 600 additional beds are available “for purposes of providing substance abuse treatment services” across West Virginia.

If the bill becomes law, DHHR officials indicated an application-type process would be used to encourage companies in the private sector to apply to build licensed facilities that meet the following the requirements:

– Give preference to West Virginia residents
– Accept patients covered by Medicaid
– Offer long-term treatment, based upon need, of up to one year
– Work closely with the Adult Drug Court Program

The bill also mandates the creation of the Ryan Brown Addiction Prevention and Recovery Fund, named for the Charleston man who died from a heroin overdose in a Charleston Town Center Mall bathroom in April 2014.

Robinson knew Brown.

“He was on a waiting list for two or three places when he passed away and got his Medicaid card three days after he passed away,” Robinson said Tuesday.

“So for people like that that have the opportunity or are looking for an opportunity to find help, we have to find an avenue for them to seek that help.”

With the bill, the Ryan Brown Addiction Prevention and Recovery Fund is to be created as a special revenue account, administered through DHHR.

Deposited in it will be grant money, transfers, designated settlements or funding from other specified sources for bed space.

Brown’s mother, Cece Brown, had personally advocated at the State Capitol for a broader fund to support those dealing with substance abuse and their affected families in any number of ways.

The final version of the bill makes the fund more restrictive.

“I think in the long run, we’re going to see a wider range, but for the short-term here, hopefully we’ll see some beds and some avenues for help for these people who need it,” Robinson said.

There are currently 818 recovery beds in West Virginia which provide substance-free environments with recovery supports, according to information from the DHHR.

Right now, West Virginia has 314 total crisis or detoxification and residential treatment beds providing acute intensive services for those needing withdrawal treatment to prevent hospitalization, if possible.

Outpatient substance abuse treatment services are largely provided through theĀ Comprehensive Behavioral Health Centers, a group of 13 agencies serving all 55 counties.

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