In the News

ICYMI: WaPo: How the opioids bill could halt exploitation of addicted Americans


10.09.18

WASHINGTON, DC – The Washington Post yesterday highlighted a key provision of H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, authored by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, that would help end the exploitation of patients suffering from substance use disorder by curtailing an detestable practice known as patient brokering. The Post reported, “These brokers cash in on patients by recruiting them to treatment centers in return for financial kickbacks from the providers themselves. Sometimes brokers will pay for patients’ air travel or offer to cover their rent to entice them into detox facilities. It will now be illegal on the federal level to provide or receive these types of payments for patients with private coverage…”

The Post also highlighted the Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigation into patient brokering. “Patient brokering is something House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders have been probing for a while. Last year, they wrote to health regulators in Florida, Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, asking them to explain how they regulate drug-treatment facilities. In May, the members sent letters to eight private call centers, demanding they explain their role in connecting patients to recovery centers and how they get paid by the facilities.”

H.R. 6 has passed both chambers of Congress and will soon be signed into law by President Trump.

Learn more about Energy and Commerce’s investigations into the opioid epidemic HERE.

Learn more about H.R. 6 HERE.

The Health 202: How the opioids bill could halt exploitation of addicted Americans

By Paige Cunningham

Much of the 660-page opioids package President Trump could sign this week aims at expanding access to treatment and limiting opportunities for people to become addicted in the first place. But a five-page provision near its end seeks to protect drug-addicted Americans from a strange and particularly egregious kind of exploitation.

You might have read news reports over the past several years detailing how “patient brokers” essentially prey on people who need addiction treatment. These brokers cash in on patients by recruiting them to treatment centers in return for financial kickbacks from the providers themselves. Sometimes brokers will pay for patients’ air travel or offer to cover their rent to entice them into detox facilities.

It will now be illegal on the federal level to provide or receive these types of payments for patients with private coverage, under the bill’s subtitle J, dubbed “Eliminating Kickback in Recovery.” These kickbacks are already illegal under federal health-care programs including Medicare and Medicaid, but up until now, there wasn’t any federal prohibition pertaining to private coverage.

Under the provision — originally offered by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) — anyone found guilty of these arrangements could face up to 10 years in prison or as much as $200,000 in fines. The practice is particularly widespread in Florida, which is home to more treatment facilities than any other state.

Patient brokering is something House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders have been probing for a while. Last year, they wrote to health regulators in Florida, Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, asking them to explain how they regulate drug-treatment facilities.

In May, the members sent letters to eight private call centers, demanding they explain their role in connecting patients to recovery centers and how they get paid by the facilities.

Read the full piece online HERE.

###

In the News