FL Prosecutors Warn Congress About Drug Treatment Fraud

Dec 12, 2017

State Atty. Dave Aronberg
Credit U.S. Congress, Energy and Commerce Committee

Two Palm Beach prosecutors are calling on Congress to outlaw the kickbacks some patient brokers receive for connecting people with drug treatment.  They believe those incentives encourage relapse rather than recovery.

State Attorney Dave Aronberg calls it the Florida shuffle—brokers send patients to Florida from other states, treatment centers milk their inpatient benefits and then refer them to a sober home where the patient relapses and the cycle begins again. 

“Everyone’s making money,” Aronberg says, “except there’s one area that’s not profitable, and that’s sobriety.” 

“We are incentivizing failure.  This is a relapse model not a recovery model.”

Aronberg’s chief deputy, assistant State Attorney Alan Johnson says applying existing anti-kickback legislation to private insurance could disrupt the pattern.

“We ask that this committee explore an amendment to the AKS—the anti-kickback statute—that would bring this law enforcement tool to bear on the rampant abuse occurring in the private sector,” Johnson tells lawmakers.

Right now those provisions only apply to public insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid.  Aronberg and Johnson also want drug treatment reimbursements based on patient outcomes, and state oversight for sober homes.