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Faith-based Addiction Treatment Act Of Washington State

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Published On: January 02, 2002          Updated On: January 02, 2002
© Terence T. Gorski, 2001

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Faith-based Addiction Treatment Act Of Washington State
Key Provision & Commentary

By Terence T. Gorski
January 2, 2001

Many state governments are enacting legislation to support the executive order mandating exemptions for faith-based addiction treatment programs.  Below is a copy of the faith-based legislation from Washington state.  

Summary of WA State HB 1252

Washington State House bill 1252 calls for the establishment of a simple procedure for faith-based programs to apply for an exemption from state program licensure requirements for chemical dependency treatment programs if the program: 

(1)   is conducted by a religious organization;  

(2)   is exclusively religious, spiritual, or ecclesiastical in nature;  

(3)   does not treat minors; 

(4)   is registered as a religious not-for-profit organization;  

(5)   does not provide medical care, medical detoxification, or medical withdrawal services;  

(6)   makes it clearly known to the public and all clients entering treatment that the treatment program is exclusively religious in nature, is  not subject to licensure or regulation by the State of Washington, and offers only nonmedical treatment and recovery methods such as prayer, moral guidance, spiritual counseling, and scriptural study;  

(7)   does not compete with licensed programs for state of federal treatment funding; and 

(8)   complies with other federal, state, and local health, fire, safety, and facilities code requirements.

The following important elements of this legislation should be noted.

1.    Definition of Faith-based Program:  Faith-based program exemptions apply to programs that:  (a) Are conducted by a religious organizations;  (b) Are exclusively religious, spiritual, or ecclesiastical in nature;  (c) Do not treat minors; and (d) Are properly registered with the State as a Faith-based program.

       Comment:  It is important that faith-based programs meet clear limitations in the scope of services provided.  Faith-based programs can provide spiritual or pastoral counseling to chemically dependent people.  They should not be allowed to provide treatment services outside of the scope of religious, spiritual, or pastoral counseling unless they meet the minimum required standards for providing treatment that meets accepted minimal professional standards.

2.    Permitted and Restricted Terminology:  Faith-based programs may use the terms "counseling," "treatment," or "rehabilitation" when describing their programs.  

       Comment:  This provision can create confusion in the mind of consumers between properly licensed science-based treatment programs and spiritual counseling programs.  To eliminate this confusion I recommend that that:  (1) the terms "counseling," "treatment," or "rehabilitation" be reserved exclusively for licensed programs using science best treatment principles;  (2)  Faith-based programs be required to use the term "spiritual counseling" or "pastoral counseling" when the service is provided by an ordained minister and "spiritual peer counseling" when the services are provided by volunteers.

3.    Restrictions On Services Provided:  An exempted faith-based program may not provide medical care, medical detoxification, medical withdrawal services, or services to children and adolescents.

       Comment:  These are essential restrictions but don't go far enough in protecting addiction treatment practice standards.  I recommend that faith based legislation include provisions that:  allow religious services and practices, spiritual counseling and pastoral counseling but restrict the provision of professional addiction treatment, mental health treatment, or psychotherapy unless properly licensed by the state to do so.  Without these restrictions faith-based exemptions can lead to a deterioration in current clinical practice standards.

4.    Restrictions On Program Advertising and Promotion:  Faith-based programs are required to conspicuously include in any advertisement or literature that promotes or describes the program or the program's chemical dependency treatment services the following statement:  "The treatment and recovery services at (name of program) are exclusively religious in nature and are not subject to licensure by the Washington department of health or regulation by the Washington department of social and health services, division of alcohol and substance abuse.  This program offers only nonmedical treatment and recovery methods such as prayer, moral guidance, spiritual counseling, and scriptural study."

       Comment:  This notification is critically important.  Consumers have a right to know the nature of the treatment they are receiving.  This provision, however, does not go far enough.  There needs to be a requirement that people entering the programs are advised of:  (1) the nature of the religious services, spiritual counseling, and pastoral counseling they will receive;  (2) the credentials, training, and experience of the people who will be providing the services; (3) the other types of licensed treatment services that are available.

5.    Client Declaration Statement:  People entering a faith-based programs are required to sign the following statement on admission:  "DECLARATION:  I understand that:  (1) The treatment and recovery services at (name of program) are exclusively religious in nature and are not subject to licensure by the Washington department of health or regulation by the Washington department of social and health services, division of alcohol and substance abuse; and (2) (Name of program) offers only nonmedical treatment and recovery methods, such as prayer, moral guidance, spiritual counseling, and scriptural study.”  <This declaration must be signed, dated, and witnessed.>

       Comment:  Please note the comments under point 4 above.  The declaration should be modified to include these recommendations. 

6.    Conditions For Revocation:  The faith-based exemption may be revoked after proper notice and and a hearing if:  (1) The organization makes any changes in the program that  that require material changes in the program's registration information without informing the state;  (2) Any program advertisement or literature fails to include the statements required by section 3 of this act; or (3) The organization violates any provisions of the act.

7.    Protection of Other Benefits:  Other agencies may not deny state or federal social service benefits to people because they are participating in a faith-based residential chemical dependency treatment program.

8.    Restriction of Competition for Funding With Licensed Programs:  Faith-based programs are not eligible to compete against a licensed program for direct federal or state treatment funding.  

9.    Applicability of Health, Fire, Safety, & Building Codes:  This act does not affect the authority of a local, regional, or state health department official, the state fire marshal, or a local fire prevention official to inspect faith-based programs and hold them accountable to meet  applicable requirements.

10.  Relationship of Faith-based Programs To The Criminal Justice System:  This act does not address the nature of the relationship between faith-based programs and the criminal justice system (including courts, correctional institutions, probation, and parole services).  Because these programs have the legal power to require addiction treatment, it is important that faith-based programs be specifically noted as voluntary.  Criminal justice programs should not be allowed to require attendance or completion of faith-based programs because by doing so it would violate the right of religious freedom.  

Faith-based Addiction Treatment Act Of Washington State

H-0797.1 - HOUSE BILL 1252

State of Washington, 57th Legislature, 2001 Regular Session

By Representatives Boldt, Mulliken, Schindler and Lambert

Read first time 01/22/2001. 
Referred to Committee on Children & Family Services.

The following copy of this legislation was provided by 
Lee Jameson, of the Living Center, Seattle. WA (www.tlctx.com; foot@tlctx.com)

AN ACT Relating to faith-based chemical dependency treatment programs; amending RCW 70.96A.020; and adding new sections to chapter 70.96A RCW.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:

Section 1:  Definitions

Sec. 1.  RCW 70.96A.020 and 1998 c 296 s 22 are each amended to read as follows:

For the purposes of this chapter the following words and phrases shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly requires otherwise:

(1) "Alcoholic" means a person who suffers from the disease of alcoholism.

(2) "Alcoholism" means a disease, characterized by a dependency on alcoholic beverages, loss of control over the amount and circumstances of use, symptoms of tolerance, physiological or psychological withdrawal, or both, if use is reduced or discontinued, and impairment of health or disruption of social or economic functioning. 

(3) "Approved treatment program" means a discrete program of chemical dependency treatment provided by a treatment program certified by the department of social and health services as meeting standards adopted under this chapter.

(4) "Chemical dependency" means alcoholism or drug addiction, or dependence on alcohol and one or more other psychoactive chemicals, as the context requires.

(5) "Chemical dependency program" means expenditures and activities of the department designed and conducted to prevent or treat alcoholism and other drug addiction, including reasonable administration and overhead.

(6) "Department" means the department of social and health services.

(7) "Designated chemical dependency specialist" means a person designated by the county alcoholism and other drug addiction program coordinator designated under RCW 70.96A.310 to perform the commitment duties described in RCW 70.96A.140 and qualified to do so by meeting standards adopted by the department.

(8) "Director" means the person administering the chemical dependency program within the department.

(9) "Drug addict" means a person who suffers from the disease of drug addiction.

(10) "Drug addiction" means a disease characterized by a dependency on psychoactive chemicals, loss of control over the amount and circumstances of use, symptoms of tolerance, physiological or psychological withdrawal, or both, if use is reduced or discontinued, and impairment of health or disruption of social or economic functioning.

(11) "Emergency service patrol" means a patrol established under RCW 70.96A.170. 

(12) "Gravely disabled by alcohol or other drugs" means that a person, as a result of the use of alcohol or other drugs:  (a) Is in danger of serious physical harm resulting from a failure to provide for his or her essential human needs of health or safety; or (b) manifests severe deterioration in routine functioning evidenced by a repeated and escalating loss of cognition or volitional control over his or her actions and is not receiving care as essential for his or her health or safety.

(13) "Incapacitated by alcohol or other psychoactive chemicals" means that a person, as a result of the use of alcohol or other psychoactive chemicals, has his or her judgment so impaired that he or she is incapable of realizing and making a rational decision with respect to his or her need for treatment and presents a likelihood of serious harm to himself or herself, to any other person, or to property.

(14) "Incompetent person" means a person who has been adjudged incompetent by the superior court.

(15) "Intoxicated person" means a person whose mental or physical functioning is substantially impaired as a result of the use of alcohol or other psychoactive chemicals.

(16) "Licensed physician" means a person licensed to practice medicine or osteopathic medicine and surgery in the state of Washington.

(17) "Likelihood of serious harm" means either:  (a) A substantial risk that physical harm will be inflicted by an individual upon his or her own person, as evidenced by threats or attempts to commit suicide or inflict physical harm on one's self; (b) a substantial risk that physical harm will be inflicted by an individual upon another, as evidenced by behavior that has caused the harm or that places another person or persons in reasonable fear of sustaining the harm; or (c) a substantial risk that physical harm will be inflicted by an individual upon the property of others, as evidenced by behavior that has caused substantial loss or damage to the property of others.

(18) "Medical necessity" for inpatient care of a minor means a requested certified inpatient service that is reasonably calculated to:  (a) Diagnose, arrest, or alleviate a chemical dependency; or (b) prevent the worsening of chemical dependency conditions that endanger life or cause suffering and pain, or result in illness or infirmity or threaten to cause or aggravate a handicap, or cause physical deformity or malfunction, and there is no adequate less restrictive alternative available.

(19) "Minor" means a person less than eighteen years of age.

(20) "Parent" means the parent or parents who have the legal right to custody of the child.  Parent includes custodian or guardian.

(21) "Peace officer" means a law enforcement official of a public agency or governmental unit, and includes persons specifically given peace officer powers by any state law, local ordinance, or judicial order of appointment.

(22) "Person" means an individual, including a minor.

(23) "Professional person in charge" or "professional person" means a physician or chemical dependency counselor as defined in rule by the department, who is empowered by a certified treatment program with authority to make assessment, admission, continuing care, and discharge decisions on behalf of the certified program.

(24) "Religious organization" means a church, synagogue, mosque, or other religious institution: (a) The purpose of which is the propagation of religious beliefs; and b) That is exempt from federal income tax under section 501 of the internal revenue code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. Sec. 501(a)) by being listed as an exempt organization under section 501(c) of that code (26 U.S.C.

Sec. 501(a).

(25) +} "Secretary" means the secretary of the department of social and health services.

(({- (25) -})) {+ (26) +} "Treatment" means the broad range of emergency, detoxification, residential, and outpatient services and care, including diagnostic evaluation, chemical dependency education and counseling, medical, psychiatric, psychological, and social service care, vocational rehabilitation and career counseling, which may be extended to alcoholics and other drug addicts and their families, persons incapacitated by alcohol or other psychoactive chemicals, and intoxicated persons.

(({- (26) -})) {+ (27) +} "Treatment program" means an organization, institution, or corporation, public or private, engaged in the care, treatment, or rehabilitation of alcoholics or other drug addicts.

Section 2: Criteria for Faith-based Exemptions

{NEW SECTION} A new section is added to chapter 70.96A RCW to read as follows:

(1) This chapter, other than RCW 70.96A.020 and sections 2 through 9 of this act, and chapter 71.12 RCW do not apply to a chemical dependency treatment program that:  (a) Is conducted by a religious organization;  (b) Is exclusively religious, spiritual, or ecclesiastical in nature;  (c) Does not treat minors; and (d) Is registered under section 3 of this act.

(2) The department may not prohibit the use, by a program exempted under this subsection, of the term "counseling," "treatment," or "rehabilitation."

Section 3:  Registration Procedure For Faith-based Exemptions

{NEW SECTION}  Sec. 3.  A new section is added to chapter 70.96A RCW to read as follows:

(1) The department by rule shall establish a simple procedure for a faith-based chemical dependency treatment program to register the program's exemption under section 2 of this act.

(2) A program exempted under section 2 of this act may not provide medical care, medical detoxification, or medical withdrawal services.

(3) A program exempted under section 2 of this act shall conspicuously include in any advertisement or literature that promotes or describes the program or the program's chemical dependency treatment services the following statement:  "The treatment and recovery services at (name of program) are exclusively religious in nature and are not subject to licensure by the Washington department of health or regulation by the Washington department of social and health services, division of alcohol and substance abuse.  This program offers only nonmedical treatment and recovery methods such as prayer, moral guidance, spiritual counseling, and scriptural study."

Section 4:  Declaration Statement On Admission

{NEW SECTION}  Sec. 4.  A new section is added to chapter 70.96A RCW to read as follows:

(1) A program exempted under section 2 of this act may not admit a person unless the person signs the following statement on admission:

"DECLARATION:  I understand that:  (1) The treatment and recovery services at (name of program) are exclusively religious in nature and are not subject to licensure by the Washington department of health or regulation by the Washington department of social and health services, division of alcohol and substance abuse; and (2) (Name of program) offers only nonmedical treatment and recovery methods, such as prayer, moral guidance, spiritual counseling, and scriptural study.”  <This declaration must be signed, dated, and witnessed.>

(2) The program shall:  (a) Keep the original signed statement on file; and     (b) Provide a copy of the signed statement to the person admitted.

Section 5: Revocation of Exemption

{NEW SECTION}  Sec. 5.  A new section is added to chapter 70.96A RCW to read as follows: 

The department may revoke the exemption after notice and hearing if:  (1) The organization conducting the program fails to timely inform the department of any material change in the program's registration information;  (2) Any program advertisement or literature fails to include the statements required by section 3 of this act; or (3) The organization violates the provisions of sections 2 through 4 or 8 of this act or a department rule adopted under sections 2 through 9 of this act.

Section 6: Guarantee of Social Service Benefits

{+ NEW SECTION. +}  Sec. 6.  A new section is added to chapter 70.96A RCW to read as follows:

A state agency may not deny to an individual a state or federal social service benefit on the basis that the individual is participating in a faith-based residential chemical dependency treatment program.

Section 7:  Limitations of Exemption

{NEW SECTION}  Sec. 7.  A new section is added to chapter 70.96A RCW to read as follows:

Sections 2 through 9 of this act are not intended to aid religion.  These sections are intended to aid chemically dependent persons by supporting programs that serve the valid public purpose of combating chemical dependency, regardless of whether the programs are religious, spiritual, or ecclesiastical in nature.  The exemption of faith-based chemical dependency treatment programs from licensure and regulation is not an endorsement or sponsorship by the state of the religious character, expression, beliefs, doctrines, or practices of the treatment programs.

Section 8:  Non-competition With Licensed Programs

{+ NEW SECTION. +}  Sec. 8.  A new section is added to chapter 70.96A RCW to read as follows:

A program exempted under section 2 of this act is not eligible to compete against a licensed program for direct federal or state treatment funding.

Section 9:  Non-exemption From Local Health & Fire Codes

{NEW SECTION}  A new section is added to chapter 70.96A RCW to read as follows:

Sections 2 through 8 of this act do not affect the authority of a local, regional, or state health department official, the state fire marshal, or a local fire prevention official to inspect a facility used by a program exempted under section 2 of this act.

 

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