Gusciora, Vainieri Huttle & Quijano Bill to Better Inform Public about Available Substance Abuse Treatment Services Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) - An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Annette Quijano to make information about the availability of substance abuse treatment services in the state more accessible to residents.

"Admitting that you need help is the first step towards recovery. We should make it easier for individuals who are battling with substance abuse and are ready to make a change to find the services they need," said Gusciora (D- Mercer/Hunterdon). "This bill would help facilitate that by having one central location where an individual can go to find the most suitable treatment facility for them."

The bill (A-226) would require each licensed residential or outpatient substance abuse treatment facility in the state to provide the health department in the county where it is located with certain information about the availability of services at the facility, on an estimated average basis.

Under the provisions of the bill, the county health department would have to display and maintain this information on its website, as well as share the information with the Department of Human Services, which would also be required to display and maintain the information on its website.

"Seeking help can be hard when you don't know where to look," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "These facilities are only effective if people know how to find them. The web is a primary source for information. By posting this information online, the road to recovery can be a click away."

"Most people today almost exclusively rely on the web for information," said Quijano (D-Union). "Making this information available online can help those individuals who want to get help, but don't know where to start, find the best treatment option for them without too much hassle."

The information to be displayed would provide: (1) the total capacity of a licensed residential or outpatient substance abuse treatment facility to provide inpatient or outpatient services; (2) the number of expected openings available, on an estimated daily basis, for a person seeking services from the facility on an inpatient or outpatient basis; and (3) the average waiting time for an opening for a person to receive services from the facility on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Once the information is received, each county health department would be required to display and maintain the information on its website, including the address and telephone number for each facility, and the availability of services in the county for a person seeking services from a licensed substance abuse treatment facility. 

Each facility would be required to update the information provided at least annually, and may update information more frequently at its discretion. 

The bill was released by the Assembly Human Services Committee.