In a rare display of bipartisan cooperation, Congress recently passed the SUPPORT Act, which combines policies from more than 60 pieces of legislation already passed by the House. The SUPPORT Act comes in response to the opioid crisis that gets worse every year and killed nearly 60,000 people in the US in 2017. The act is wide-ranging, addressing many issues related to administration, funding, and treatment availability. One section of the act aims to address fraud and deception, which are common in the addiction treatment industry.
There are a number of deceptive and fraudulent practices that bad actors in the treatment industry use to ensnare people seeking treatment. A common one is patient brokering. This is when you call a generic treatment hotline and the person on the other end takes your information supposedly to match you to the best treatment center for your needs, but instead sends you to the highest bidder. There are brokers who get paid according to how many people they can bring in and how much the treatment center can charge insurance. There are also centers that use inducements like offering free travel, waiving copays, paying premiums, or offering free stays in sober living homes. The goal of these places is to get people in the door and run up their insurance bills, with little regard for providing quality addiction treatment.
The SUPPORT Act aims to cut down on these fraudulent practices. Any facility providing addiction treatment services will now be subject to stricter anti-fraud policies. The Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act, or EKRA, of 2018 makes it against federal law for treatment centers to offer or receive payment for referrals to treatment centers or sober living homes. This not only applies to federally funded treatment, but to treatment paid for by private insurance, which means much broader protection for people seeking treatment.
Some states, such as Florida, already have similar protections in place, some of which may be stricter than the federal law. The SUPPORT Act does not preempt those laws but provides new protections in states where they don’t already exist. Also, while patient brokering is illegal, people can still reach out on behalf of treatment centers as long as they are not paid based on the number of patients they bring in or how much the patient’s insurance is charged. It’s worth noting there are still some exceptions to the anti-fraud laws. A broker may still be compensated based on copayments, coinsurance, or deductibles collected from patients, so it’s still best to be skeptical of brokering services. Dealing directly with a reputable treatment center is the best way to get a fair deal.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or mental illness, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the resources to effectively treat a dual diagnosis. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.