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Hospitals could hold addiction patients involuntarily

October 13, 2015
by Julie Miller, Editor in Chief
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Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker—a former health insurance CEO—this week is expected to propose a bill that would allow hospitals to hold individuals with addictions involuntarily for three days and obtain legal permission to place them in longer-term treatment, according to the Boston Globe. The Baker administration says it would be another tool in the toolbox to address the opioid addiction crisis.

More than 1,200 people died of overdoses in Massachusetts last year.

Currently, family advocates and law enforcement officers can go to court to seek 90-day civil commitments for those with addiction who pose a serious risk of suicide or harm to themselves or others. The new legislation would allow hospitals to play a similar role.

According to the Globe, more than 3,000 people have been sent to addiction treatment so far this year under the existing law.

Undoubtedly, the treatment industry will question exactly who would do the evaluations for the hospitals under Baker's new proposal and where the patients would be held. State-funded facilities that provide treatment might be possible resources.

The new policy is part of a larger effort to address the addiction crisis in Massachusetts by favoring treatment over incarceration. Separately, Baker has a $27.8 million proposal in his current budget bill for new addiction-related funding.