Fraud within the addiction treatment industry has been going on for quite some time, but with new regulations in place, it is only now being handled within the legal system. This grave deception has turned former addicts into millionaires, yet so many more suffer. Legitimate treatment providers fight to keep their reputations in tact, while addicts struggle to stay alive in what has turned into a dog-eat-dog industry.
What We Know
Within the last 2-3 years, dozens of news reports have surfaced of various states’ illegal addiction treatment practices. In November of last year, The New York Daily News reported the arrest of California rehab owner, Christopher Bathum, and his CFO Kirsten Wallace in a $176 million insurance scheme. Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said in a statement, “Bathum and Wallace victimized hundreds of people addicted to drugs and alcohol by keeping them in a never-ending cycle of treatments, addiction and fraud – all the while lining their pockets.” Bathum was also charged with the alleged sexual assault of over 12 patients in a 5 year span.
Just last month, reports came out about addiction treatment providers in Phoenix, Arizona, shuffling young addicts in and out of rehab. The term known as patient brokering, in which patients are sold to a facility for a fee paid to the recruiter, has been occurring in Phoenix and other states alike. These “body brokers” will even go as far as supplying drugs to young people, in order to continue the perpetuating cycle of addiction and treatment. One of the major reasons why these scams have gone on as long as they have, is due to the lack of regulations and laws surrounding sober homes, patient brokering, and kickbacks. It truly is a sad and disturbing reality among the addiction treatment industry, but thankfully things are beginning to change.
Taking A Page Out Of Florida’s Handbook
As many states struggle with fraudulent addiction treatment practices, Florida is beginning to take a turn for the better. Palm Beach County, in particular, has taken swift and steady action, creating the largest crackdown on addiction treatment facilities, their operators, and their illegal agendas.
In January, Kenneth Chatman, owner and operator of Journey to Recovery, Reflections Treatment Center and dozens of sober homes in Florida, was indicted on major counts of healthcare fraud, money laundering, and sex trafficking. Chatman has been accused of making millions on victimizing young addicts and their families, as well as coercing patients into prostitution. Furthermore, US Assistant Attorney Marie Villafana looks to indict Chatman on charges relating to overdose deaths that occurred in his homes, something that could send him away for a very long time.
Just this morning, reports came out of another rehab owner’s arrest on 93 counts of patient brokering…the largest number of arrests made by Palm Beach County Sober Homes Task Force thus far. Daniel Kandler, owner of Chapters Recovery, allegedly paid $325,000 to four employees for recruiting patients to his facility. Kandler is also said to be connected to Whole Life Recovery, a facility which was shut down by the task force in October.
Where Do We Go From Here?
The fact of the matter is, the malpractice of these individuals has harmed countless individuals and their families. Young girls are coerced into prostitution and sexually assaulted, addicts spend months, even years, in-and-out of treatment, and some have even died, due to overdose. The shameful fact is that now these young people and their parents don’t know who they could trust. How could they ever put their faith and their lives in the hands of an addiction treatment center again?
Families struggle to know the right course out action and addicts have given up entirely on the idea of going to rehab and getting better. The heinous actions of these criminals have made it more than difficult for legitimate addiction treatment centers to not only compete, but differentiate themselves. Because of their horrific experiences, the victimized are left with a bad taste in their mouths, and those of us who genuinely care about helping people are viewed in the same light.
Deceptive marketing tactics and unethical practices surely have done nothing but make us all look bad, furthering the decline of addicts seeking treatment, ultimately feeding their addictions, and putting lawful centers out of business. So where do we go from here? How do we, as an industry, recover from those that have tarnished not only our image, but our belief system as a whole? The first step is clearly being taken by those in Palm Beach County, Florida; arrests are being made, and indictments are handed down. Hopefully soon, other states will follow suit, passing legislation making it illegal to offer, provide, and accept kickbacks, as well as regulating sober homes…something Arizona is in the process of doing.
Clearbrook Puts Our Patients & Families First
As a parent, spouse, loved one or friend, you want to know that your family member is safe and being cared for properly. With all that goes on in the process of recovery, the last thing you want to worry about is being taken advantage of, and your loved one being put in harm’s way. Here at Clearbook, we can ensure that you or someone you care about will not only be safe and our first priority, but that they will receive top-of-the-line addiction treatment.
It is unfortunately a scary world that we live in today, nevertheless, do not be discouraged. There are still honest facilities available that truly want nothing more but to help the suffering person. We understand it can be a very confusing and overwhelming task to know which facility would be best, so we encourage you to do your research. Understanding the process of treatment is important, so never be afraid to ask questions.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, we are here to help. For more than 4 decades, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been a leader in effective addiction treatment and family education. Please contact our Admissions Specialists today for further information.