On Monday, August 22nd, Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana said she’d like to craft local rules barring sober homes from offering free one-way plane tickets to out-of-state clients.
Florida’s patient brokering law prohibits health care providers from offering inducements to lure patients already, so the issue comes down to paying for enforcement, not creating new rules that would apply only to treatment providers and not to the slew of “medical spas” who do exactly the same thing.
Moreover, this Millennial Generation of “drug addicts” (read: using drugs to avoid responsibilities, but not clinically “addicts”) has learned to game the system themselves and are willing to barter their bodies and the parent’s insurance cards in exchange for free gym memberships (not to work out, but to pick up their next booty call), cellphones and cigarettes.
A Florida legislative bill filed last legislative session would have prohibited drug treatment providers from offering free or reduced rent at a recovery residence, along with deceptive marketing practices, but it was not passed. The same or similar bill is expected to be introduced in 2017 and should pass, curbing not only the activities of treatment and housing providers, but of “marketing companies”
Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay said it best, when she said “policymakers should work to ensure people get the best substance abuse treatment possible.”
“We need to remember the civil rights of the people in those homes, and they are subjected to inordinate amounts of fraud that we need to protect them from,” she said.
Our takeaway: First, kudos to Commissioner McKinlay. She gets it. It’s not a NIMBY issue; it’s a human trafficking issue. Second, marketing remains the #1 issue plaguing the treatment industry and these telemarketing companies are leading many to believe what they are doing is lawful. One must ask: would the patient choose my treatment center but for the fact that I am paying to fly them into Florida (or elsewhere)? On the other side, what are desperate patients to do who live in jurisdictions without sufficient drug and alcohol treatment programs? Get in a car alone and drive for 24 hours? Either way, how to treatment providers compete on an even playing field with other providers who are more than willing to do whatever it takes to get access to out-of-network insurance benefits? And let’s not even begin to have a conversation about the cadre of self-declared “health care” lawyers out there willing to bless these arrangements under the guise of “zealous client advocacy.” At the end of the day, everyone in this industry whose eye is on something other than exceptional patient care needs to be taken out back to the woodshed and taught a lesson on honor, humility, and service. But isn’t this entire industry so prototypically Americana? After all, if it makes a profit, it “must” be “good” for the country, notwithstanding outcome. I get the sense our next Presidential election will fall along those same lines. But in summary, if “service” is not your primary goal in this industry, you need to take a hard look at yourself and know your day of reckoning is coming.