Bill To Ban Patient Brokering, Insurance Fraud In California Moves Forward

By Victoria Kim 04/19/18

Recovery advocate Ryan Hampton helped author the bill which aims to tighten recovery industry regulations in the Golden State.

Recovery advocate Ryan Hampton
Ryan Hampton testifying before the healthcare committee courtesy of Ryan Hampton

Proposed legislation that would tighten regulation of California’s recovery industry is one step closer to becoming law.

Senate Bill 1228, introduced by California Senator Ricardo Lara, unanimously passed the Senate Healthcare Committee on Wednesday (April 18).

The bill would ban patient brokering and require “licensed recovery programs to refer patients only to certified facilities that meet high standards of patient care and protect patients from physical, sexual or financial abuse,” according to a statement by Senator Lara.

Patient brokering is the practice of recruiting people in need of treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) in exchange for kickbacks. This predatory practice—which may involve prowling recovery meetings, homeless camps, and drug courts—is, at its worst, associated with patient deaths and insurance fraud.

Critics say it's a way to profit off of other people’s desperation. Some liken patient brokering to human trafficking.

“As I sit here, a patient broker is luring an unsuspecting, frightened person in exchange for a headhunting fee,” said recovery advocate Ryan Hampton in his testimony before the healthcare committee on Wednesday. “The quality of care that desperate person will receive is anyone’s guess.”

Florida, New York, and more have banned patient brokering.

Hampton, who testified alongside fellow advocate and friend in recovery, Garrett Hade, on behalf of Recovery Reform Now, is hoping to end the exploitation of people in recovery with SB 1228, legislation he drafted with Hade and Sen. Lara.

Hampton was compelled to take action after his sponsee died in a sober living home in Pasadena six months ago. “I was outraged that there were no standards, no standard of care,” he told The Fix via email.

The proposed legislation would also require certified recovery facilities to have “life-saving overdose-prevention measures” on hand, such as naloxone, the drug that reverses opioid overdose.

“Because there was no naloxone on site, and because the home staff weren’t trained to deal with overdoses, my friend lost his life,” Hampton said in his testimony. “Common sense measures like naloxone in sober living homes, ethical standards, and protection for people who are trying to recover are crucial if we want to save lives.”

SB 1228 goes before the Senate Public Safety Committee next week, Hampton says, before it can be voted on in the Senate, hopefully before the summer.

“My friend’s death was 100% preventable, and SB 1228 addresses the changes we need in order to ensure that recovery homes are saving lives, not endangering them,” said Hampton.

These recovery advocates are fighting for Californians in vulnerable situations, including their friends and peers. “We’re done being taken advantage of,” Hampton said in a statement on Facebook. “We’ve had enough.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr