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Bill to check patient brokering fails to move beyond New York state senate

The authorities, at both the federal and state levels, are striving to combat the ever worsening opioid epidemic by implementing various measures and policies. However, some unscrupulous organizations and groups are trying to draw mileage out of the situation, and in the process are damaging the addiction treatment industry. One such group comprises people who indulge in patient brokering.

Patient brokering or patient selling is an act of offering or receiving commission or kickback (directly or indirectly) to encourage patient referrals from a health care provider to a health care facility. The growing problem is acting as a roadblock in the path of the government efforts; still the lawmakers are not doing enough to rein in the problem.

Bill No. S6544, passed by the New York State Senate in 2017, to “prohibit the practice of substance use disorder patient brokering” in New York is still stuck in the Assembly and has not moved ahead since almost a year. The Act would prohibit individuals, and health care facilities or substance abuse programs from providing, promoting or receiving bonus, bribe, rebate or commission in cash or kind, to directly or indirectly encourage patient referrals in connection with substance abuse services. The Act would also expand “healthcare fraud in the fifth degree” to include all such individuals who knowledgeably give or receive bonus, rebate or commission in exchange for referring patients to drug abuse rehabilitation programs.

Patient brokering cheats individuals, families and insurance agencies

Patient brokering or patient selling involves paying individuals or external agencies through cash and other incentives against the promise to bring “clients” addicted to drugs and other addictive substances into a treatment program. The treatment centers are then able to collect hefty fees from the patients’ insurance providers with little or no concern about the specific needs of a patient. This predatory practice is a means of exploiting families while jeopardizing patients’ lives.

Though the patients are referred to the treatment facilities, some of these facilities often take advantage of the insurance coverage by charging thousands of dollars for tests, accommodations or treatments that they might not even offer. Irrespective of the fee charged, such centers often fail to provide the essential services to help patients fully recover and avoid relapse.

Opioid abuse continues to be a serious public health issue in the United States claiming more than 115 lives every day. In 2016, there were more than 63,600 drug overdose deaths nationwide. As the number of overdose deaths continues to ravage communities across the nation, there has been a simultaneous rise in the substance use disorder (SUD) treatments offered. Although most drug addiction rehab facilities offering SUD treatment have fully invested in the treatment and recovery of their patients, some of the drug abuse rehab centers have been driven by profit-making motive rather than patient-focused care.

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Similar to other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases, SUD patients have the right to evidence-based care and recovery maintenance. If you or your loved one is battling an addiction to drugs or alcohol and seeking effective treatment options, do so now.

At the 24/7 Recovery Helpline, we can help you learn more about drug addiction and assist you in finding an SUD treatment program that works best for you. Whatever your concern, you can reach us via phone or our drug help live chat. Our team of representatives can connect you to the finest rehab centers near you. For more information, call us at our 24/7 helpline (855) 441-4405 or talk to a representative through live drug addiction online chat.

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