On Monday, September 17th, the Senate overwhelmingly approved a legislative package of bills aimed at combating and offering solutions to help curb America’s rising addiction crisis. The bipartisan legislation passed 99-1 with Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) the only senator to vote against it.

The bill, titled the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 (OCRA), is like the House package recently passed in June and directs funds to federal agencies to either establish or expand programs nationwide and within states that deals with education, prevention, treatment and recovery of and from addiction.

One of the major highlights of the bill directly deals with the issue of patient brokering, a well-known and wide spread unethical practice within addiction treatment and recovery circles of individuals and facilities that prey on people that need addiction treatment. Patient brokering can come in numerous forms but ultimately it is the buying and selling of patients through direct payments or enticements that can occur between patient brokers and treatment facilities or even patient brokers and potential patients. Patient brokers recruit patients to addiction treatment centers for financial kickbacks from the rehabs. Often this can also include enticements like paying for patient’s airfare to a facility or covering their rent for housing. It can also include smaller incentives like paying for a patient’s food or cigarettes. Often patient brokers even offer to pay potential patient’s cash for going to a facility, then move them from facility to facility and can even pay for substances that the patient can use in between facilities that will ultimately allow the patient to fail a drug test and allow the admitting facility to gain insurance coverage for admitting the patient.

Based on the provision into the Senate bill, initially offered by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), patient brokering would now become a federal crime regardless of what state it occurred in and anyone that would be found guilt of patient brokering could face up to 10 years in prison or as much as up to $200,000 in fines.

Recently, the practice of patient brokering and online predatory marketing came under scrutiny of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, as they questioned several addiction treatment providers and online call aggregators on the practice. Over the last several years, local and state organizations have taken notice of the practice and taken steps to clean up the practice on county and state levels, demonstrated most effectively by several task forces operating in South Florida. Patient brokering is an unethical practice that harms the greater good, the addiction treatment field and the individuals and families that are preyed upon and we support this bipartisan effort to make patient brokering a federal crime.

If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or dual diagnosis issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at Contact us today. For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.

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