There are a series of television ads currently running in which a man in doctor’s scrubs urges you to call a number for addiction services. Lately, the ads have gotten more belligerent. The man says something like, “You know who I am. Why haven’t you called?”
Many people are annoyed by these ads and for good reason. Despite the number of people with alcohol, prescription pill, and heroin addictions or dependencies out there, the odds are really good that not everybody watching these commercials at any given time is addicted. Even those who need help may be put off by the brusque tone.
Many people with addictions don’t even believe they are addicted. Their answer would be, “Because I don’t need help.” If they do acknowledge they need help, they might say “Because I don’t like your tone” or “I don’t trust you.”
A worse blow to the addiction treatment services industry is that there is so little oversight that outright crooks are taking advantage of insurance companies and addicts. Florida has been hard hit, but it’s not the only place. California, New York, and Arizona have more than their fair share of bad operators.
The National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP)’s Executive Director Marvin Ventrell describes them as “a new and unwelcome breed of unscrupulous profiteers … sullying the good name of legitimate values-based providers.”
Kenneth Chatman was one of the worst operators, according to Florida prosecutors. Not only didn’t treat his “patients” but actually supplied them with drugs and used some of them in “sex trafficking.” He was able to set up his sober homes (residences where addicts live while attending outpatient addiction services) and treatment facilities despite being on probation for identity theft and fraud.
To combat this, NAATP is implementing a new Quality Assurance Initiative (QAI) “designed to promote best business practice, deter problematic business practice, educate and protect the consumer, train the provider, and inform policy makers and payers.”
That last part may be the most difficult. Despite a report of the President’s Opioid Commission and the Energy and Commerce Committee’s advancing 57 addiction-related bills to the full House of Representatives, there seems little urgency for substantial rehab reform. So far it has not been seen as an issue leading up to the November 2018 midterm elections, at least not nearly as much as immigration reform and a border wall.
According to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, 115 Americans die of a drug overdose every day or more than one every 15 minutes. It’s past time for everyone — government, healthcare, insurance and addiction treatment services top get their acts together.
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