I want to be the first to acknowledge and admit that I was overcome with fear about further changes to House Bill 807 which is a very important piece of legislation for the substance use disorder treatment industry that is intended to comprehensively address the delivery of treatment services, as well as govern the behavior of those who use predatory marketing tactics for patient lead generation.
Thank you to EVERYONE who took the time to write the committee members to express your support of the bill as well as your concern about potential special interest groups who would endeavor to undermine it for their own benefit.
Many of you have asked me, why would someone who represents treatment and housing providers (me) be so adamant and vigilant about further regulation of this industry? Isn’t that against my clients’ interests?
Just the opposite.
My clients care about their patients. My clients care about how they are perceived. My clients care about erasing the stigma that has followed substance use disorder patient delivery services for generations.
And my clients want clarity in the rules that govern their behavior. We all do.
As a result, when we learned that an amendment was filed at 7:11pm last night to the bill that had been vetted and “blessed” by the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force, we reasonably assumed that our collective interests may have been undermined once again.
I am here to tell you that, after reading the amended bill, not only was I wrong, but I actually believe it is a BETTER piece of legislation.
While I acknowledge that the mandate to have all persons in a position of direct client contact be licensed was removed, in its place was a requirement that DCF is to determine through its rulemaking powers (not the Legislature) what is the best healthcare delivery model going forward. Not only is such language common, but elected officials are rightfully hesitant to start micromanaging the agencies who are considered more of the experts in the field.
Maybe most important was the addition of language which makes clear “lead aggregators” and other “patient acquisition services” will be governed by Florida’s Telemarketing Act, giving the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services the authority to begin to regulate, both criminally and civilly, “substance abuse marketing services” no differently than any other interstate solicitation entity. This is fantastic. The requirements of the Florida Telemarketing Act can be found here.
Therefore, we humbly issue a retraction of our “the sky is falling” comments (though, our fears were reasonable based upon past experience) and must THANK the bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Bill Hager, as well as Rep. Gayle Harrell (and their staff members), all of whom have demonstrated a commitment towards reforming the delivery of behavioral healthcare and substance use disorder treatment in our great State of Florida.
Now, it is VERY IMPORTANT that Senator Jeff Clemens, who is the primary bill sponsor in the Senate, to take this version and amend the Senate version to match, which we are confident will occur.
Again, thank you for reading. Certainly, more to follow on this matter, for as Florida navigates its way through addiction treatment service delivery, the rest of the nation will follow.
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