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Hager Continues to Try to Regulate Recovery Residences Inbox

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at November 25, 2014

Hats off to State Rep. Bill Hager (R-Boca Raton) for again trying to regulate recovery residences. Attached is his proposed House Bill 21 (HB21).

However, unlike the article on the front page of today’s Sun-Sentinel, I do not see any language that limits referral to a certified recovery residence which only obtains state funding.

What I did see is the following:

“Effective July 1, 2016, a service provider licensed under this part may not refer a current or discharged patient to a recovery residence unless the recovery residence holds a valid certificate of compliance as provided in s. 397.487, is actively managed by a certified recovery residence administrator as provided in s. 397.4871, or both, or is owned and operated by a licensed service provider or a licensed service provider’s wholly owned subsidiary. For purposes of this subsection, the term “refer” means to inform a patient by any means about the name, address, or other details of the recovery residence. However, this subsection does not require a licensed service provider to refer any patient to a recovery residence.”

Let’s skip the First Amendment issue for a second (“I could tell you the name of a recovery residence, but the Thought Police will then come and take me away….”) and focus on the crux of the real issue.

Treatment centers are NOT referring patients to recovery residences. The “regulators” have that (mostly) backwards.

The problem?

“Sober Houses” are advertising themselves on the internet and elsewhere nationally as a place to get sober, but then requiring their residents to attend an outpatient treatment center.

Which treatment center? The one the house owner sends them to, for which the sober home “operators” gets a kickback for the referral under the guise of “rental assistance” or “scholarship” or otherwise.

Does this violate s. 817.505, Fla. Stat. (the “Patient Brokering Act”)?

Yes. But let’s be logical with the evil that is trying to be avoided.

The policy behind that law is that we want the patient to make health care decisions for themselves, such as which treatment center to attend. In this instance, the housing operator is making that decision for them and that may not be in the patient’s/resident’s best interests.

But what if the treatment center is providing real services and the person is getting the real help they need and rightfully deserve??

We don’t know that because the regulation of treatment providers is overseen by an agency (DCF) which is a social service agency, not a health care agency, which has zero funding and zero support from the State and our communities. Good luck trying to find the children DCF places with a foster home….

Any other similar housing + treatment arrangement is governed by AHCA and the regulatory scheme is well-established.

See http://ahca.myflorida.com/mchq/health_facility_regulation/Hospital_Outpatient/residential.shtml

Just because someone created the “Florida Model” of dividing treatment from housing does not mean that the housing is not an important and critical part of the treatment continuum.

Is there a substantiated and documented problem with someone who has successfully completed a treatment program from being referred to a recovery residence, who then relapses due to poor management of the recovery residence? Anecdotally, I would say “yes”.

And perhaps that is the evil HB21 (together with FARR and FADAA) is trying to eliminate.

But let’s not begin to pretend that sober living/recovery residences are themselves the “problem” as the attached Sun-Sentinel article would like everyone to believe.

The problem is specified greedy and unscrupulous treatment providers. Period.

So then why isn’t stronger regulation of treatment providers proposed for 2015? Because the State doesn’t want to pay for it.

The State does not really care about people in recovery. Don’t forget our state motto: “Personal Accountability and Individual Responsibility.”

The State does not want to ensure that people in recovery get the services they rightfully deserve.

The reality is, the time is NOW to embrace the recovery community in all of its beautiful forms. Then, and only then, can we together weed out the bad players, with the intention of protecting “our neighborhoods”, which thankfully include people in recovery, no matter how “transient” their time with us may be, from predatory tactics.

HB21 may be the start of that and I applaud Rep. Hager for his persistence. I just hope that, behind closed doors, our elected “leaders” start to open their minds and , most importantly, open their hearts, to welcoming to Recovery Community as a permanent part of “our” community, particularly as we approach this Thanksgiving holiday.

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