Thursday, May 04, 2017

Rise of drug-treatment centers brings Georgia traffic from out of state; new law will limit clinics

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said he will sign a bill today for stricter regulations of drug-treatment centers, which have been popping up in rural towns in the northwestern part of the state and are drawing large numbers of people from neighboring Tennessee, Ezra Kaplan reports from Ringgold for The Associated Press. The bill also limits the number of treatment centers that can open in a specific area. Georgia leads the South with the most drug treatment centers, at 71, two more than Florida, which has twice the population.

Relaxed rules in Georgia and stricter regulations in Tennessee have led to an increase in recent years of privately owned treatment centers in Georgia for heroin and prescription painkiller addicts, Kaplan reports. Data from the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities shows that last year one in five people treated at an opioid treatment center in Georgia came from out of state. In Northwest Georgia, which borders Chattanooga, two of three patients are from out of state.

Complaints from local residents led state Sen. Jeff Mullis, who represents much of the northwest, to lead a push this year "to pass a new set of statewide regulations on the industry," Kaplan writes. "The new rules will require programs to demonstrate a need for their services, similar to the certificate of need licensing program already used in Tennessee. Previously, open competition was really the only constraint on the number of clinics in Georgia. Mullis's bill also limits the number of centers that can open in newly established regions around the state. His region will already be at capacity as soon as the bill is signed." (Read more)

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