Another domino in the opioid abuse epidemic: More Americans are in need of addiction treatment services. Unfortunately, that has allowed unscrupulous owners to take root in a largely unregulated industry.
In Florida, kickbacks have flooded the market, where marketers—known as “body brokers” or “junkie hunters”—lure recovering addicts with cash or drugs in an effort to re-enroll them in addiction treatment programs. Recently, the owner of more than two dozen sober homes in California and Colorado was accused of improperly billing insurers $176 million for addiction treatment services. Even worse, he was accused of sexually assaulting female patients. He has denied those allegations.
Addiction-treatment providers are well aware of the industry’s darker side and are working to change their reputation. President Barack Obama has allocated more funding to addiction treatment but without any further oversight. At the same time, payers are increasing addiction treatment audits, and Cigna pulled out of Florida’s exchange, citing abuse among addiction-treatment providers.