In response to stories that seem to be on the rise in communities across the state — stories of parents trying to revive children after a heroin overdose, of young people seeking treatment their insurance plan won’t cover, and of babies born addicted to opiates — state lawmakers on the last day of their formal session approved a bill they say will help save the lives of those addicted to heroin, prescription painkillers and alcohol.
The measure, among several major bills passed just after midnight Friday, requires insurers to pay for any care a doctor decides is medically necessary. Insurers say this and other requirements included in the bill are a mistake.
In outlining the House and Senate compromise on the substance abuse bill Thursday afternoon, Sen. John Keenan of Quincy talked about his father.
“He was a good, decent, hard-working man, he was a great husband, a great father, but he was an alcoholic.” Keenan remembered an afternoon when his family told his father he had to get help. His dad resisted, but finally agreed. Someone got on the phone and found him a bed in a treatment program that was paid for by the Keenan’s insurance plan.
“That very day changed lives. My father had 26 years of sobriety before he passed away last year,” Keenan said. “He had 26 years with my mother, 26 years as a great father, 26 years with his seven children and their spouses, and 26 years as a great papa to his 20 grandchildren. So this can work.”
“This” being a requirement that insurers pay for up to 14 days of overnight detox and rehabilitation treatment as well as counseling, medication and any other services a clinician says are “medically necessary.”