Every day thousands of people suffer from drug and alcohol addiction. Many enter rehab facilities in hopes of fighting their addictions. As the drug rehab industry booms, it has been an unfortunate discovery that some owners of these recovery centers have become corrupted in a search to make a profit.
The Palm Beach Post reported their findings during an investigation into the rehab industry of South Florida. Their work uncovered that huge profits were being made from people looking to fight their addictions and find sobriety. The guilty businesses were abusing urine testing, one of the primary ways to tell if an addict or alcoholic has relapsed. The scheme was rather simple. These recovery centers are allowed to bill a patient’s insurance up to $3,000 for one urine test. Insurance claims uncovered that these centers were testing patients either too many times or creating fake claims. The Post also shared the story of a family who received a bill for their son, who was receiving treatment. The family was sent a bill that totaled more than $300,000 for their son’s urine testing during the program’s duration.
Abusing insurance claims for urine tests wasn’t the only illegal practice that was uncovered during this investigation. The Palm Beach Post also reported instances of kickbacks and patient brokering. In fact, this problem has gotten so rampant that the FBI has created a task force completely dedicated to fighting this type of corruption.
This rising trend was discussed during the Florida Association of Recovery Residences, where some lawmakers proposed a bill that would cut down on this illegal action. State Rep. Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) has fought against the corruption in the rehab industry for six years. Trying to regulate the billion-dollar industry led Harrell and other Florida lawmakers to craft HB 21. Written by Harrell, Sen. Heff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) and Rep. Bill Hager (R-Boca Raton), HB 21 would establish a voluntary certification program for sober homes. The certification process would be supervised by a non-profit organization chose by the Department of Children and Families. Fortunately, HB 21 has won an incredible amount of support from both chambers. This substance abuse services bill will also require a background screening of employees that work at these participating recovery residences. The centers’ certification can be denied, suspended or revoked at anytime. The list of participating rehab centers would be published on the Department of Children and Families’ website. While this certification would be voluntary, there would be incentives to get the credentials. Filed in November of 2014, the bill has finally been approved and is working its way into becoming a law.
One of the bill’s creators, Rep. Bill Hager (R-Boca Raton) says the bill is also meant to protect those addicts that are looking for much needed help. Hager believes there are too many shady drug rehab centers in operation that are threatening their client’s wellbeing.
“Getting this bill across the finish line has been very important to me,” Hager said. “People are going to know where these homes are. These homes, even though there cannot be discriminatory legislation, they’re still subject to local zoning ordinances such as sanitary codes, such as occupancy codes. And right now, municipalities do not know where these homes are (and) where they’re located. So that’s number one in terms of beginning to understand these facilities.”
This bill has inspired other states to look into the drug rehab centers operating in their states. Many states, such as California, require facilities that provide 24-hour care to eligible addicts to get a license. Just as in Florida, the certified centers are listed on the state’s Department of Health Services website. This website is extremely easy to use to find a specific drug rehab center. For example, if a visitor is looking for a San Diego drug rehab center, they can simply click on the corresponding county and browse through the listings. Each listing gives the specifics of the center, from location to types of programs offered.
This type of regulation serves to protect addicts who are looking to get help to fight one of the hardest struggles someone can experience. With the proper research, addicts can find a rehab program that will equip them with the right tools to win the fight against addiction.