Governor signs bill allowing AA/NA meetings during

a state of emergency

 

Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick), left, and Sen. Melissa A. Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield) are seen at today’s bill-signing ceremony in the Governor’s Reception Room at the State House.

 

STATE HOUSE — Legislation introduced by Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick) and Sen. Melissa A. Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield) to permit Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous to hold meetings during a declared disaster emergency has become law. Gov. Dan McKee signed the bill today during a ceremony at the State House.

The law (2021-H 5281A, 2021-S 0988) provides that mental health and substance use disorder services provided by the organizations will be considered an essential health benefit.

“The services provided by Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are not only essential, they are necessary for the public health,” said Representative Vella-Wilkinson. “During the pandemic, AA meetings were designated as a social gathering rather than an essential service, while liquor stores were considered essential and permitted to remain open. AA is no more a social gathering than rehab, especially when many of the members are court-ordered to attend meetings.”

The law mandates that adequate measures be implemented to provide the services safely within whatever guidelines may be established to address the issues relative to the declared disaster emergency.

“For those in recovery from a substance use disorder, social support is critical,” said Senator Murray. “Better access to these services means better outcomes for patients. The services provided by AA and NA are as essential as any other medical, therapeutic or rehabilitative treatment, and we must ensure that they are allowed to continue during any future states of emergency.”  

 

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