McGarrigle Bill Setting Standards for PA Addiction Recovery Houses Set for Enactment

Harrisburg – Legislation sponsored by Senator Tom McGarrigle (R-26) to establish quality standards for addiction recovery houses in Pennsylvania received final approval today and will be sent to Gov. Wolf to be signed into law.

Senate Bill 446 calls for the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) to establish standards for the licensure or certification of recovery houses that receive funds or referrals from DDAP or a federal, state or other county agency.

“The purpose of these facilities is to provide support for those suffering from addiction after they leave inpatient treatment or correctional facilities. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous operators sacrifice a desperate attempt at recovery to make a profit,” said McGarrigle. “Enactment of this measure will establish standards aimed at saving lives and taxpayer dollars.”

Under Senator McGarrigle’s legislation, regulations established by DDAP must include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • A policy that ensures residents are informed of facility rules, residency requirements and lease agreements.
  • Policies and procedures for management of funds in accordance with standard accounting practices.
  • A policy ensuring criminal background checks for operators and employees.
  • Policies and procedures addressing the safety of residents.
  • Policies for maintaining building safety standards.
  • A prohibition on owners, administrators and employees from requiring residents to sign over their public assistance benefits.
  • Policies and procedures for managing resident complaints.
  • Polices that promote recovery by requiring resident participation in treatment or other recovery supports.
  • Policies requiring abstinence from alcohol and illicit drugs.

State license or certification will be for a period of one year. Under Senate Bill 446, DDAP must maintain a registry on its publicly accessible website of all licensed or certified drug and alcohol recovery houses in the Commonwealth and update the registry annually.

Senator McGarrigle and colleagues acted after news articles brought to light cases of facility operators fueling addictions, exploiting residents and employing counselors who use drugs.

Senate Bill 446 is based on standards and criteria developed by the National Association of Recovery Residences, whose Pennsylvania chapter has been working with owners of facilities who have voluntarily sought certification. The administration and enforcement of the act will be funded through fees for certification and fines levied as a result of violations.

“The addiction crisis is affecting communities in every region of Pennsylvania, and access to effective treatment is vital in turning the tide,” said McGarrigle. “People entering the recovery process have taken the crucial first step to a better, productive life. Approval of Senate Bill 446 sends the message that we will not let that journey be cut short due to lack of oversight.”

Senate Bill 446 was originally approved by the Senate in June. It was amended and approved by the House of Representatives on Tuesday, with the Senate voting today to approve the amended bill.

CONTACT:     Mike Rader mrader@pasen.gov (717) 787-1305