By LYLE R. FRIED, CAP, ICADC, CHC In Addiction Recovery, Social Issues
Posted August 10, 2017
If you or a loved one are seeking recovery treatment in the state of Florida, it’s a good idea to be informed about the laws designed to protect you.
In 1972, the United States Congress passed several anti-kickback laws designed to prevent harmful client brokering practices. These laws prevent doctors and other health care providers from referring patients to medical professionals or programs based on kickbacks or incentives they may receive, such as a percentage of the income earned from these referrals.
The purpose of these laws is to prevent patients from receiving poor or inappropriate referrals based solely on profit, rather than on the patient’s needs and well-being.
In Florida, there are state laws that go above and beyond those at the national level. They’re designed to protect patients, including those in treatment centers and recovery programs.
Florida’s Anti-Kickback Statues
Florida has nine anti-kickback statues. Here’s a list of the nine, as well as a brief description of each:
- Florida Anti-Kickback Statute – § 456.054, Fla. Stat.: It’s illegal for health care providers to receive kickbacks for referring/soliciting patients.
- Florida Patient Brokering Act – § 817.505, Fla. Stat.: It’s illegal for medical companies and professionals to offer kickbacks or participate in split-fee arrangements in exchange for generated business and referrals.
- Rebates Prohibited – Hospital, ASC, Mobile Surgical Facility – § 395.0185, Fla. Stat.: It’s illegal for anyone to pay or receive bonuses, rebates, kickbacks, or commissions related to referrals to any medical care center, including hospitals.
- Rebates Prohibited – Pharmacy – § 465.185, Fla. Stat.: These laws also apply to pharmacists and pharmacies.
- Bribes, Kickbacks, Certain Solicitations Prohibited – Nursing Homes – § 400.17, Fla. Stat.: It’s illegal for anyone who furnishes or provides services to nursing homes to offer or receive kickbacks, bribes, and certain solicitations.
- Rebates Prohibited; Penalties – Nursing Homes – § 400.176, Fla. Stat.: It’s illegal for anyone to pay or receive kickbacks for referrals to nursing homes.
- Grounds for Disciplinary Action – Medical Practice – § 458.331(1)(i), Fla. Stat.: Any medical practice participating in a kickback relationship can be subject to disciplinary action.
- Grounds for Disciplinary Action – Osteopathic Medicine – § 459.015(1)(j), Fla. Stat.: This is applicable to anyone practicing osteopathic medicine as well.
- Medicaid Provider Fraud (Kickback provision) – § 409.920(2)(a)(5), Fla. Stat.: It’s illegal to receive kickbacks for referring patients to goods and services covered by Medicaid.
As you can see, these laws are applicable to any health care provider in the state of Florida, including individuals such as pharmacists and physicians, as well as institutions like hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care facilities.
The kickbacks and client brokering outlawed in Florida include “inducements.” Inducements are benefits and freebies offered directly to patients to motivate them to come to specific programs, with the ultimate goal of billing the patient’s insurance.
Be wary of any program that offers to cover airfare, rent, food, medicine, co-pays, or other expenses like gym memberships, etc.
All of these laws are in place to ensure that patients, including those seeking addiction recovery, can find safe and ethical healthcare. Referrals and decisions on where to seek treatment should be based on the program that is best for you or your loved one, not on profit.
Other Protections in Florida
On top of these laws, Florida treatment centers also follow Codes of Ethics overseen by various licensure and certification agencies.
Additionally, Florida was the first state in the nation to develop legislation to certify sober homes and recovery residences. The state has specialized task forces in place to investigate and report on the recovery industry.
With all of these protections in place, Florida has some of the tightest laws, in addition to some of the greatest funding and other resources to follow through with investigating and prosecuting offenders.
Florida has some of the strictest and most consistently enforced laws protecting people in recovery treatment.
You may see news stories about Florida treatment centers raided by law enforcement officials, but keep in mind that these raids are enforcing laws designed to protect patients.
Florida also has a high concentration of recovery providers. For every unethical treatment center that makes the news, there are many others quietly devoted to providing quality care.
Sending your loved one to Florida can be an excellent decision. Do your research, avoid any suspicious inducements, and ask plenty of questions to find the right treatment center for you or your loved one.