SALT LAKE CITY — A House committee Wednesday decided that a bill that would set guidelines for court-ordered treatment and interventions for people with substance abuse disorders needs more work.
HB286, sponsored by Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, would create a process for courts to intervene on the behalf of those with substance abuse disorders.
Christensen said 37 other states have passed similar legislation to reform treatment and intervention guidelines, and noted that Utah has one of the highest rates of opioid-related deaths in the nation.
The House Health and Human Services Committee opted to hold HB286, allowing Christensen to revise some of the language in the bill.
Kelly Atkinson, of the Utah Health Insurance Association, expressed concerns about the bill, saying it contains "vague, overly broad language.”
"An activist judge may attempt to mandate a benefit where none exists," Atkinson said.
Will Carlson, of the Statewide Association of Prosecutors, said criminal prosecutors "frequently have the opportunity to be the party that steps in and tries to force someone into treatment."
"The results of forcing someone into treatment when they are not ready would be mixed," Carlson said.
Rep. Edward Redd, R-Logan, said he has seen medical interventions lead people into productive lives, as well as those where people return to their dangerous routines.
"Now they're dead because they went back to heroin and they had no tolerance," Redd said. "Sometimes we have to be very creative in how we solve these problems."