Some lawmakers are aiming to cut down on corruption at addiction-recovery facilities by changing the way insurance companies reimburse providers. There are a whole host of problems with the drug rehab industry, according to a major investigation by the Southern California News Group: No degree, medical or otherwise, is required to get a facility license; and some centers are administering subpar, and even unnecessary, care and then billing insurance companies for it in the hopes of earning high reimbursements.
In what could be a first in California, licensed addiction treatment providers will be required to register annually with the Orange County Health Care Agency – and disclose webs of related businesses, such as urine- and blood-testing labs, pharmacies, real-estate-holding companies that manage sober living homes and the like.
Much of the 660-page opioids package President Donald Trump could sign this week aims at expanding access to treatment and limiting opportunities for people to become addicted in the first place. But a five-page provision near its end seeks to protect drug-addicted Americans from a strange and particularly egregious kind of exploitation.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a raft of bills into law Wednesday that will begin imposing order on the Wild Wild West of California’s addiction treatment system. Most take small steps in what reformers say is the right direction – toward stronger regulation.
At a hearing this week investigating the addiction treatment industry’s sketchy marketing practices, various industry representatives said they agreed that their peers need more regulation-but that their own business practices were kosher. “We support the committee’s efforts to clean up the practices that are harming us all,” said Marvin Ventrell, executive director of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers.
Eighteen of his friends lost the addiction battle in just the past two years, the most recent in October – in a sober living home. “The road to this bill is paved with dead bodies,” said Ryan Hampton, a writer and addiction recovery activist who supports California Senate Bill 1228, also known as the Substance Use Disorder Patient Protection Act.
Does the proposed legislation have enough teeth to be effective?