In the never-never land of state and national patients' rights legislation inappropriate language could come back to haunt a small city in the form of substantial lawsuits and other penalties, so you need to keep a civil bureaucratic tongue in your head. Something Sierra Madre's local government agency does excel at these days.
We'll get into this a little more later in the week. But for today I have a couple of articles to show you that describe some recent developments in Florida, a state where the fight over sober living homes has been going on for a lot longer than it has here. These could be an indication of how things might play out in California someday. Hard to say.
After all, ours is a state where the opposition to putting these things in the middle of suburban family communities like Sierra Madre is as strong as it is in Florida, but local media and law enforcement seems too polite to talk about it very much. Perhaps they fear being seen as "uncaring." Or they just aren't very concerned.
Speculation that a two-year-long investigation into corruption in the Palm Beach County’s addiction treatment industry would yield no arrests ended on Tuesday when law enforcement officials raided Whole Life Recovery, a Boynton Beach treatment center, and arrested its owner and operator. CEO James Kigar and operations consultant Christopher Hutson face patient brokering charges, a third degree felony.
They are being held at the Palm Beach County jail and will appear in front of a judge Wednesday morning.
In 2014, the FBI launched Operation Thoroughbred, a federal investigation into accusations of insurance fraud, money laundering, patient brokering and kickbacks in the county’s $1 billion industry. Agents raided two sober living and treatment businesses, Good Decisions Sober Living in West Palm Beach and Halfway There/Real Life Recovery in Delray Beach.
Corruption was so rampant that Cigna stopped selling policies on Florida’s insurance exchange.
In response, some sober homes and treatment centers closed. Others changed their business and billing practices. However, as time passed and no arrests were made, the industry rebounded.
Hutson’s criminal record includes a conviction for fraud for his role in a $40 million pill mill empire operated by Wellington brothers Christopher and Jeff George. According to court records, Hutson ran an illegal internet steroid business and sold steroids on behalf of Jeffrey George.
Hutson also posed as a patient and obtained prescriptions for oxycodone — which he sold to others. Christopher George financed an MRI facilty for Hutson, which referred patients to the pain clinic.
There is a lot more to be found at the link, which is here. Next we have this:
Two more people have been arrested in a crackdown aimed at unscrupulous operators of substance-abuse recovery facilities in Palm Beach County.
Police said Bryan Norquist and John Dudek, a pair of Delray Beach sober-home owners, referred patients from their locations to treatment centers in exchange for thousands of dollars in kickbacks.
Authorities on Thursday arrested Norquist, of The Halfway House Inc., and Dudek, of Southern Palm Oasis Inc., on charges of patient brokering, a felony offense.
Both men posted the $3,000 bail and were released early Friday morning. Norquist declined to comment on the arrest, Dudek has not returned calls for comment.
The law prohibits health care providers from offering bonuses, kickbacks or bribes in return for patient referrals.
Sober homes, also known as halfway houses, are unregulated group housing for people recovering from alcohol or drug addiction. Typically, house owners or managers refer their clients to treatment facilities based on their needs.
The latest arrests are part of an investigation by the Palm Beach County Sober Homes Task Force, which consists of prosecutors and multiple agencies.
You can read the rest of that article by clicking here.
Now I am not suggesting that anything this exciting is going to happen here anytime soon, or even needs to. Nor am I saying that Thursday evening's Planning Commission findings will be little more than an exercise in tiptoeing around sensitive language in order to avoid lawsuits or any unwanted attention from Sacramento.
But you can see where things could go with this industry if you don't keep a close eye on things.