Khan to introduce bipartisan legislation empowering recovery community organizations

HARRISBURG, April 10 – State Rep. Tarik Khan, D-Phila., today announced he will soon introduce bipartisan legislation to help prevent opioid overdose and support long-term recovery.

This legislation would require Medicaid coverage and licensure for recovery community organizations providing peer recovery support services.

Recovery community organizations help individuals and their families as they navigate to successful recovery and healthy lifestyles; however, they are currently not a licensable entity type in Pennsylvania, and individuals with substance use disorder only qualify for peer recovery services through Medicaid if they also have a mental illness. 

“So proud to help lead this effort to increase access to support services for individuals with substance use,” Khan said. “As a nurse practitioner and state legislator, I am committed to supporting recovery community organizations— key allies in increasing recovery and reducing overdoses across the state.”

This bill has support from advocates outside the legislature including Robert D. Ashford, executive director for Unity Recovery, and Lauryn Wicks, family member and advocate.

"Peer support workers and recovery community organizations are such a critical part of how we respond to substance use and mental health concerns in Pennsylvania,” Ashford said. “This legislation ensures that peers can be paid real living wages, receive appropriate supervision, and covers more peer support services under the state Medicaid plan than ever before. Pennsylvanians deserve equitable and ethical access to peer support no matter where they live or what other services they are engaged in. Codifying these protections and safeguards in legislation is not only important, it is the morally right thing to do in 2024.”

“When a health service results in positive outcomes it should be covered - hard stop; for both the person impacted as well as their family,” Wicks said. “As a family member and Pennsylvanian, to fathom we've not yet broadly implemented reimbursable peer support services as standard in the substance use health and mental health care continuum by now - in 2024 - feels like blatant negligence and othering. Peer recovery support services should be accessible and covered for everyone.”

Khan is joined by state Reps. Mike Cabell, R-Luzerne; Jose Giral, D-Phila.; Heather Boyd, D-Delaware; and Ismail Smith Wade-El, D-Lancaster, in introducing this bill.

"Having owned and operated within the behavioral health care industry, I've seen firsthand the critical role peer-support services play in individual’s successful recovery journeys,” Cabell said. “This experience solidifies my support for the legislation aimed at enhancing access to these essential services throughout Pennsylvania."

"Peer support and recovery community organizations are vital care for individuals and families in need,” Boyd said. “Providing a pathway to licensure and gaining access to Medicaid coverage for peer support services will help those who need them, and ultimately they will save lives."