Amid National Opioid Crisis, Rubio & Klobuchar Introduce Bill to Eliminate Patient Brokering
U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) yesterday introduced the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act, legislation to prohibit patient brokering by punishing unscrupulous actors that prey on patients seeking treatment in order to exploit the patient's insurance. In May, Rubio introduced legislation to help states, law enforcement, private insurers and patients identify potentially illicit treatment centers and sober homes to ensure those who need treatment are able to find legitimate facilities.
"Too many Americans suffering as a result of the opioid epidemic are exploited by bad actors seeking to make a profit from addiction," Rubio said. "This bill will help stop the cash flow for middlemen involved in illicit sober homes and paid referrals. I remain committed to addressing this important issue that has left no part of the state untouched."
"When people are struggling with addiction, their focus should be on getting well, not on worrying whether treatment facilities are trying to take advantage of them to make more money," said Klobuchar. "Our bipartisan bill will crack down on health care facilities or providers that try to game the system to take advantage of vulnerable patients."
"It is critical that our federal partners have the tools available to assist local efforts to stem the fraud and abuse that has decimated the legitimate treatment industry. We appreciate the support from Senators Rubio and Klobuchar to empower federal prosecutors to go after corrupt kickbacks to patient brokers," said Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg, who leads the Sober Homes Task Force in South Florida and brought the issue of patient brokering to Senator Rubio's attention.
The Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act would:
- Make it illegal to provide, or receive, financial kickbacks for referring patients to recovery homes and clinical treatment facilities. These kickbacks are already illegal under Federal health care plans, like Medicare, but there is no federal law to prohibit them in private health insurance plans;
- Fine anyone found guilty up to $200,000 or 10 years of prison, or both;
- Establish common-sense exceptions to enable legitimate cases of patient referral.