The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, has recently said the government has promised to make $13 billion available for “prevention and treatment to combat the crisis and mental illness in the United States.
The money is expected to be distributed over six years beginning in 2018,” according to Record Herald, people are taking advantage of the financial capital of rehab centers to make profit, while neglecting the purpose of what the centers are meant for.
Mari Edlin of Managed Healthcare, says “Marvin Ventrell, executor director of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, agrees with Blanchard. “Because of industry growth and an increased ability to profit, private investors are putting money into new centers or buying them. They are in it for the ROI, which doesn’t usually equate with quality care.”
Vice President of Spectrum Health Systems Lisa Blanchard says, “Often times, poor rehab programs offer nice amenities in a scenic location but lack the appropriate clinical care. They have great mattresses, HD TVs, and horseback riding, but these programs usually suffer from inadequate staffing combined with a lack of clear recovery programming.”
There is a lack of serious help for people who are struggling with opioid addiction, specifically in Ohio, where, in 2015 and 2016, there was a 30 percent increase in deaths related to drug overdose, according to Record Herald.
How Funding Affects Treatment
He writes, “The stakes for addressing substance abuse in California could scarcely be higher. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid addiction recently elevated overdoses to the No. 1 cause of accidental death in the United States, outpacing firearm mishaps and fatal vehicle accidents, and ultimately reversing the trend for American life expectancy for two years running. In 2015, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drugs reported that 80 percent of prison inmates have addiction issues.”
With such high numbers in places like Sacramento, having 296 deaths in 2015-2016, and, Los Angeles and Orange County earned the deadliest totals, with 605 fatal overdoses between them, private facilities need to hold higher standards for the massive epidemic of opioid abuse we see.
Granted, there are a number of private facilities that do hold themselves to high standards, but the problem is that most facilities lack the reinforcement, which creates a negative chain cycle of continued drug use if the patients are not shown quality care.
Another big issue the private sector is the illegal practice of exploiting addicts to make money in the form of “patient brokering.”
A Practice of Selling Humans
Northpoint Recovery says patient brokering, “means paying individuals or outside companies to “recruit” drug addicts with certain types of health insurance into a treatment program with cash and material incentives. These so-called addiction treatment centers are then able to collect a hefty fee from insurance companies just for the drug testing stage, without necessarily following up with their clients in order to provide the treatment and care that they need in order to recover from addiction altogether.”
The problem with this scheme is that now, to combat patient brokering, insurance companies will reject the reimbursement these treatment centers assumed they would receive, making it increasingly difficult for people battling addiction to seek proper treatment.
Genesis House says, “This practice is illegal in every state, however, current providers are trying to use loopholes to get out of being charged.”
In July 2017, Palm Beach Post reported on “the biggest health-care fraud in Florida” referring to addiction treatment centers participating in patient brokering and other acts says it is a “nationwide opioid crisis that took thousands of lives last year.”
There were 412 people charged $1.3 billion for fraudulent bills, including 52 doctors and 205 health care professionals. These professionals are either suspended or banned from participating “in any federal health care programs.”
There was a specific case in Palm Beach Florida including Eric Snyder, charged for fraudulent activity where he billed insurers $58 million for approximately five years. He was arrested with an associate—he was a treatment center operator and sober homeowner.
These kinds of situations make it difficult for people to see the positive outcomes in private facility treatment- but there are many that are dedicated to their patients and getting people help.
How to Protect Yourself While Getting Help
There are several ways to make sure you don’t fall victim to fraudulent activity when seeking help.
Genesis House said when looking for contact information, “You should be able to find a valid address and phone number for the facility. There should be the treating physician’s names as well. If a website lacks this basic information, it’s likely that the website is brokering patients.
“This typically occurs by having you call a number, which is tracked, that connects you to one of the scamming health care facilities. The facility then pays the website owner a referral fee when you call the number and book a visit.”
Another tip is looking for a Center of Excellence, which Caron states is, “any addiction treatment provider who “demonstrates leadership and the highest clinical quality in a field of specialized treatment.”
You should only look for attributes for a quality center that, according to Caron, have the following attributes:
- evidence-based programs
- care for co-occurring and behavioral health issues
- credentialed staff
- family treatment programs
It’s important to make sure that you do the proper research before making any financial decisions and seek more than one opinion to learn more about private treatment centers, because there are several scams on the internet- President & CEO of Caron Treatment Centers Douglas Tieman states in the Hearing “Examining Concerns of Patient Brokering and Addiction Treatment Fraud.”
Tieman says there have been several instances where the Caron website was “hijacked,” where, “another entity claimed Caron’s listing, changed the phone number, and calls were routed to an unknown call center that turned out to be a lead aggregator. [Caron was] unable to determine the call center name or what entity changed the number, but [they were] able to switch the number back.”
”Caron suggests that treatment centers provide verifiable outcomes, making this information available to all prospective patents and their families.”
In any industry there will be corrupt and illegal practices, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek help or become discouraged, which will inevitably ruin your perception of treatment centers.
Verifying the information presented online is accurate makes the difference between life and death for those seeking treatment.