One of the foundations of addiction treatment is honesty. First, you have to be honest with yourself about your addiction: it’s not just on television and movies that one of the first steps toward recovery is admitting the problem. At The Road to Freedom, we also believe you have to be honest with your family, your God and the professionals who are guiding you through recovery. Here, we make the commitment to return that honesty.
It’s a shame, then, that not all providers in the addiction industry — or the healthcare industry at large — make the same commitment. Unfortunately, a few people or organizations act outside of professional boundaries, sometimes in an effort to increase revenue, and that can be bad for everyone in the industry. It can be especially unfortunate for someone seeking help with a substance abuse disorder.
We support the recent efforts by the government to crack down on fraud in the healthcare sector. Here’s a quick summary of what’s happening currently and why it’s positive for those caught in addiction or seeking recovery.
FEDs are cracking down on fraudulent billing and prescription writing
The U.S. Attorney General said the recent crackdown, which affects dozens of organizations nationally, is perhaps the largest of its kind in American history. Two of the areas that were targeted during these recent moves by law enforcement were fraudulent billing and illegal distribution of prescription drugs. Some providers who were lying on billing forms or billing for more services than they provided were arrested, as were numerous individuals who were prescribing or distributing opioid that weren’t medically necessary.
When providers submit fraudulent claims, it hampers the process for every other provider. Good claims get caught up in limbo as healthcare payers try to discern what is fraud and what is legitimate, which can make it harder for honest, caring providers to seek payment for the work they do. That puts all true addiction recovery facilities in potential financial risk.
The supply of narcotics and opioids through supposedly legitimate channels also makes it difficult for those in recovery and those providing addiction treatment services. The easier it is to get these addictive drugs, the harder it is to stay sober. Ready supply also increases the number of people who end up in addiction in the first place.
Consequences for those who take illegal kickbacks
The federal crackdown also included some arrests related to kickbacks or patient brokering. A kickback occurs when one person is financially rewarded for recommending or transferring a patient to another organization. A hypothetical kickback situation might look like this:
- A family medical doctor has a relationship with an addiction recovery center.
- The family medical doctor is paid a certain amount of money for every person he refers to the center.
- The doctor now has a conflict of interest: he financially benefits from referrals, so he may be tempted to refer people only to that center (even if another facility or treatment might be better for the situation). He might also be tempted to refer people who are not in need of treatment at all.
The vast majority of medical providers do not engage in this type of behavior. But it does happen, and it creates challenges for legitimate addiction treatment centers. It also means that individuals facing substance abuse disorder may not end up in the best possible treatment program for their needs.
Seeking addiction treatment from honest organizations
For families or individuals seeking addiction treatment in South Florida, these concerns are very real. At the same time, fear of a few fraudulent providers should never keep anyone from reaching out for the treatment they need. Here are a few tips for finding honest, high-quality recovery facilities.
- Ask a trusted medical provider or therapist for recommendations. Recommendations from providers you’ve trusted for years aren’t illegal. Most doctors and therapists are happy to give some options, and no one is paying them to push a certain facility.
- Take time to peruse any site the addiction center might have online. If the facility seems transparent and have a wealth of information about treatment, addiction and how they operate, it’s a good sign.
- Check the Better Business Bureau or other review sites for a trend of negative reviews or actions. Remember that any business is likely to have one or two negative commenters, especially on the internet, but a consistent trend might be worrisome.
- Finally, take time to talk with admissions counselors at a facility. Take a trusted friend or family member with you if you like; sometimes having someone else feel out the situation and provide you with feedback helps you feel more sure of a decision.
The burden of these arrests and new regulations mostly fall on to treatment providers, not the patients. Our promise to our patients is that despite any regulations or financial hardships, we will not compromise our quality of treatment provided to our patients. You can contact The Road to Freedom right now to find out how our faith-based recovery programs work.