Aug. 24, 2022 – It’s easy to mistake mental health and addiction treatment centers for actual medical facilities in California. But they are not staffed 24/7 by doctors (and are not allowed to be). They’re typically situated in tract houses in residential neighborhoods, and the most stringent medical requirement may be the full-time presence of someone who knows CPR.

Enter Senate Bill 1665 by Sen. Pat Bates, R-Laguna Niguel — an attempt to untangle the pretzel logic of non-medical facilities crowing about their medical services, or exaggerating staffers’ credentials, or promising prescription-drug-level services when no one on staff is licensed to prescribe drugs. It was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on on Monday, Aug. 22. It refines Brandon’s Law, the Bates bill signed by Newsom last year, which prohibits addiction treatment and mental health providers from misrepresenting or making blatantly false claims about the services they offer or where they’re located. That was a long-fought victory for Bates and Nelson’s family, and its meaning seemed crystal clear.

But some operators have tried to skirt it using sophistry, Bates said.

Thus the new law, which expressly forbids drug or alcohol programs from making false or misleading statements about medical treatments or services offered.

“We’re thrilled we got that signed by the governor,” Bates said. But perhaps not so thrilled that every burp and gurgle of what seems obvious and ethical must be explicitly spelled out.