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Statement on Patient Brokering

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at October 31, 2016

I am very pleased as well as relieved to see State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s office taking a proactive role utilizing confidential informants to make criminal arrests and begin to undue the harm that the scourge of patient brokering has brought upon our community and to those who are seeking relief from their addictions.

The fact that the patient brokering law does not “work” for the drug treatment industry may be an economic reality as well as problem that creates tension, but that is not a “green light” to attempt to circumvent the intent of the law.

While this tension needs to be resolved as to what arrangements are permitted in the patient acquisition space, we have been unequivocally clear that payments to a “marketer” for a patient referral is illegal, for a host of policy reasons, some of which I set forth in a recent article that was published in Sober World Magazine (attached).

The “marketing” activities of treatment providers has been a long-standing ethical concern of NAATP and has been recently addressed more comprehensively by Ben Cort who works with CeDAR (The Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation) with the Addiction Treatment Marketers Organization (ATMO) initiative.

To be fair, all other licensed entities have the opportunity to seek and obtain written business behavior guidance from their respective regulating entities.  Lawyers can call their state bar association; doctors can call their state Board of Medicine; engineers, architects, accountants, and so forth, have a legitimate resource to turn to when faced with the “fork in the road” between client care and profit.

Drug and alcohol treatment has no such guiding light.  We don’t fund it. We don’t pay for it.  In fact, in Florida, it has been suggested that the State may have to continue to be diverting funds earmarked for such oversight away from Substance Abuse/Mental Health regulation, and into the general fund for overall DCF operations, in direct contravention of Florida Statute 397.407(3) (“Licensure and renewal fees must be deposited in the Operations and Maintenance Trust Fund to be used for the actual cost of monitoring, inspecting, and overseeing licensed service providers.”).

To date, rather than resolve the issue societally and globally, we have had to defer to law enforcement to clarify the issue.  The Attorney General’s Office has not clarified the statute, refusing to respond to reasonable requests from providers seeking better guidance in how to compete within an unfair playing field.

I very often use the analogy of performance enhancing drugs undermining the integrity of sport. For those who have committed their professional lives and careers to providing services to people seeking recovery from drugs and alcohol, the injection of deceptive and unfair trade practices creates an uneven playing field upon which they cannot compete.  Without the NFL or NBA making sure there are no drugs in sport, people would be harmed simply to stay in the game of life.  Here is a little levity on the subject: http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/update-all-drug-olympics/n9691

Still, we must go through a “zero tolerance” policy as a necessary process to then clear the air and be able to find a resolution that works.

Sober World – Oct Issue Florida officials deliver strong warning against patient brokering Ethics in Marketing 2016

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