Well, it would appear that doing the "right thing" has become the wrong thing in the topsy turvy world of South Florida Addiction Treatment Centers.
Today, Evolutions Treatment Center's perfect 5-star rating on Google Reviews has been tainted by a 1-Star review.
Did this person mention that they were unhappy with the services they received at our Fort Lauderdale based treatment center? No.
Were they mad because they didn't get the attention they wanted? Nope (not even close!).
Was this person even a client at Evolutions? The answer is "no" again.
So, what did we do so wrong to deserve a scathing 1-star evaluation? Allow me to explain.
In an attempt to incite positive change throughout the infamous wild wild South Florida Treatment community, congress is working diligently to get new bills passed that will put an end to what is currently unethical and soon to be illegal. Highlighting such things as patient brokering, illegal kick-backs, deceptive marketing practices, and more, the state is hoping to draw a line in the sand as to what is or isn't allowed when treating those struggling with substance abuse disorders. Most recently, House Bill 807, also known as “Practices of Substance Abuse Service Providers Act”, passed unanimously and is awaiting Governor Rick Scott's signature.
Now, one of the issues mentioned in this most recent House Bill, is the common issue of inducement. "Inducement" is defined by google as "a thing that persuades or influences someone to do something." Pertaining this to Addiction Treatment, one must bring up the topic of "waiving" insurance deductibles and co-pays or the purchasing of flights, for example.
Picture this. I am Treatment Center "A" and am the center that is most likely to help you on your path to recovery. I am staffed with experienced and credentialed clinicians, offer true dual diagnosis care, smaller group sizes, and can truly individualize my experience to meet your needs.
Then Treatment Center "B" comes along. Now, Treatment Center "B" doesn't have a fraction of the expertise on staff, owns a website riddled with deception, and has a marketing budget that far outweighs the more important staffing budget. But Treatment Center "B" is willing to do something the Treatment Center "A" will not. They are willing to disregard your $6000 deductible, pretend your coinsurance of 30% doesn't exist, and they are even willing to fly you down to their make-believe sand castle on the beach!
"What we are going to do is have you sign a promissory note (AKA an "I owe you" written on the back of a bar napkin that was taken from a local Chili's while our team of street marketers solicit the unknowing and helpless waitress that clearly had a few too many.) But don't worry, we will never actually try to collect on the money you are promising us in writing. It's really more of a loophole, oops, I mean formality." said Treatment Center B.
Inducement. A thing that persuades or influences someone to do something. Most people, who do not know any better and are in the throws of their addiction, are going to take option B. And unfortunately, as a result they become another contestant in the the Palm Beach County game of Recovery Life, in which the player jumps from one recovery center to another, using their insurance card as if it read "American Express" on the front and was made of titanium. They do not get better, they are only made worse by being . But at least they didn't have to pay for that flight, right?!
Now back to the 1-star review. The reason it was left was because we refused to bend on our policy to not contribute to the unethical nature of some of our peers. We choose to not offer services to our patients that are based on sketchy gray area loopholes. We also recognize that it will soon become officially illegal. Now, Florida Statutes 817.505 and 456.054 mention this type of patient brokering behavior but discusses it in terms of offering kick backs to a referring facility and not as much to a patient. That is why House Bill 807 is so important. This bill is addressing the deceptive marketing practices by a number of centers here in Florida including the issue of inducement or enticement.
The bottom line is that we do not want a patient choosing to come to us based on what they receive financially (or don't have to spend) for doing so. We would want a patient to choose to come to us because we are the best clinical fit for their needs. That should be the reason anyone decides to go to any center and it is remarkably unethical for a center to sway someone in their decision making process by offering them something outside of excellent clinical care.
There is hope for South Florida, though. The storm clouds are clearing, slowly, but they are clearing. And once those clouds do clear, the only one's left standing will be the one's who refused to compromise in their ethical standards in the face of immoral competition.