Dave Aronberg Talks How to Fight Fraud in Treatment Industry

Dave Aronberg Talks How to Fight Fraud in Treatment Industry

8 months ago, Florida was home to 953 licensed drug treatment centers, and 207 were in Palm Beach County. As of April 1, there are now 185 in Palm Beach, with 771 in the whole state. This decrease is due to the crackdown on fraud by Palm Beach State Attorney’s Office, which has led to 45 arrests in the last year and a half. So far, those arrests have led to 16 convictions. For State Attorney Dave Aronberg there is no sign of slowing down.

Recently, Dave Aronberg spoke with Opioid Watch to talk about the work his office has been doing to try and strengthen the addiction treatment industry. Chief Assistant State Attorney Alan Johnson also sat down to talk about how Palm Beach County is fighting to protect those who are coming to Florida for help. Johnson heads the office’s Sober Homes Task Force.

Dave Aronberg VS Purdue Pharma

 According to Aronberg, he got involved with opioid-related issues back in 2001, when he was an assistant attorney general. Aronberg says he was asked by his boss, Bob Butterworth, to investigate Purdue Pharma. This Big Pharma giant is the producer of OxyContin. This powerful prescription opioid has been credited with making a heavy contribution to the opioid crisis. Dave Aronberg was to examine the marketing practices of Purdue Pharma, and is quoted in the interview transcript stating:

“I believe we were one of the first in the country.”

Of course, now Purdue Pharma is one of many big name pharmaceutical companies being accused in lawsuits across America. In fact, Delray Beach, Florida recently filed its own case against the company.

When asked about what he found, Aronberg said that Purdue was marketing the product like it was Advil. Purdue has been repeatedly accused of pushing this product as if it was far less dangerous than it actually was. In 2002, Dave Aronberg was elected to state senate, and shortly afterward the case against Purdue was settled. In the edited interview transcript, Aronberg is quoted:

“Purdue also offered $2 million to the state to establish its first prescription drug monitoring program. I worked in the state senate to get the PDMP enacted into law. But some conservatives refused to go along. They thought it was Big Government. So Purdue’s $2 million went away, because the offer expired. We didn’t get the PDMP till 2011. By then the carnage was horrific.”

Furthermore, Opioid Watch notes that a Purdue spokesperson confirmed that the state failed to implement a PDMP by July 1, 2004, which was the expiration of the companies offer.

Dave Aronberg Goes to Congress

In December of 2017, Aronberg went in front of Congress to testify concerning fraud and abuse in the addiction treatment industry. In this meeting, they discussed various issues with shady facility operators in Florida and made suggestions on how the law could step in to change it and protect patients. The interview transcript quotes Aronberg:

“In recent years, we’ve had an influx of unscrupulous operators who enrich themselves by exploiting those in recovery. As a consequence, we’re attracting thousands of young people from throughout the country into fraudulent rehab centers. (We’re talking about some, not all. There are good rehab centers, too.)”

Again, Aronberg found himself at battle with shady marketing practices. While investigating the treatment industry, Aronberg’s office discovered illegal operations that not only manipulated insurance providers but put patients at extreme risk.

From patient brokering, where illicit actors would sell patients with insurance to the highest bidders, to illegal kickback schemes being run by sober homes to outpatient treatment programs. Chief Assistant State Attorney Alan Johnson added information about the exploitation of urine analysis costs, and even some programs that began billing insurers for allergy and DNA testing. Aronberg states:

“We have a doctor who billed $7 million in nine months for allergy tests.”

Needless to say, the task force and state officials had their work cut out for them.

The ACA, ADA, and FHA

When talking about the many scams being run by various illegitimate businesses, the conversation came back to insurance and how these cons run. Here Dave Aronberg talks about his beliefs on how the law should step in and help restructure the current system.

“Number one: Change the Affordable Care Act’s fee reimbursement model to an outcome-based reimbursement model. Where the good providers are rewarded and the bad ones are paid less. Right now, the opposite occurs, so the more times you fail, the more money you get. There’s an incentive for more services and for more relapse. That shouldn’t be.”

After talking about the issues with the ACA, he talked about the ADA and FHA.

“The second change we need is this: the Americans with Disabilities Act and Federal Housing Act have been misused and exploited by bad actors who own flophouses.”

He went on to say,

  “Local governments are largely prohibited from overseeing the sober home industry. If they want to require mandatory inspections, certifications, and registrations, they’re likely prohibited under federal law.”

In essence, Aronberg believes the law should allow local governments to create their own guidelines for health, safety and the general welfare of the patients. None of these demands seems outlandish, and with reasonable regulation, the reputable and effective providers in this industry can continue to best serve the South Florida recovery community.

Aronberg also points out that the problem is not only in Florida. Recently, he went to Orange County, California to meet with officials dealing with the same situation. Next for Dave Aronberg is leading the national task force of 34 prosecutors in 30 states. Their goal is to produce a working paper for setting best practices for prosecutors all over America concerning these issues. The task force also intends to make suggestions for changes to federal and state laws.

What might be most surprising though is the mention of harm reduction strategies?

“It’s about prevention, drug treatment, and innovative strategies. I think it will be powerful because it’s going to be prosecutors talking about needle exchanges and disposal and safe injection sites. People assume prosecutors are going to be focusing only on mandatory minimums and longer sentences. That’s not what this is about. I think it’s going to surprise people.”

While needle exchanges and safe injection sites have been proposed in numerous states, it is not the most popular idea. San Francisco is actually on track to open the first safe injection site in America, with Philadelphia not far behind, and Seattle and Baltimore in the conversation as well.

With Aronberg and the task force working to make a difference, hopefully, we will see the right change soon. We hope it will make the recovery community stronger as a whole. Reputable and respected providers are also doing their part to refine their practices while implementing innovative and effective resources to ensure that those who with drug or alcohol addiction always have a safe place in Palm Beach County to get the help they need. With the opioid crisis ongoing, having real resources for opioid treatment is still an essential part of overcoming the problem.

Palm Healthcare Company is a leader in holistic addiction treatment with over 20 years of helping people from all over the country heal mind, body and spirit. Providing safe and comprehensive care should always be a focus in the effort to overcome the drug problem, and preservation of life should always be a priority. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

America’s Heavy Drinking: Where Do All 50 States Rank?

America’s Heavy Drinking: Where Do All 50 States Rank?

Even though the country is very aware of the opioid crisis that continues to claim lives every day, one of the most dangerous drugs in America is still alcohol. Heavy drinking in the US is also a deadly epidemic. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) an estimated 90,000 people die from excessive drinking every year.

Another new report also indicated that those who do die from alcohol abuse actually die an average of 30 years prematurely.

With more deaths related to heavy drinking than any other drug, which states have the highest rates? A new piece released on 24/7 Wall St. from last week went to work ranking all 50 states.

Defining Different Drinking

In order to better understand how troubling the data truly is, we first have to understand what qualifies as “excessive drinking”.

The CDC categorizes an alcoholic drink as something containing 0.6 fluid ounces of pure alcohol. Therefore, the CDC considers excessive drinking to include terms like:

For women, excessive drinking is four or more drinks on a single occasion. For men, it requires five or more drinks in one sitting.

When it comes to “heavy drinking”, by CDC standards:

  • Women consume at least eight alcoholic drinks per week
  • Men consume at least 15 alcoholic drinks per week

24/7 Wall St. analyzed CDC data on heavy drinking, along with census bureaus and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) to create their report. What it shows is that 18% of Americans drink excessively, but that the difference between states it dramatic.

America’s Heavy Drinking States

  1. Tennessee

  • Adults drinking excessively: 11.2%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 28.0% (11th lowest)
  1. West Virginia

  • Adults drinking excessively: 11.4%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.0% (25th lowest)
  1. Utah

  • Adults drinking excessively: 12.4%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 19.7% (the lowest)
  1. Alabama

  • Adults drinking excessively: 13.0%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 29.4% (17th lowest)
  1. Mississippi

  • Adults drinking excessively: 13.3%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 23.3% (3rd lowest)
  1. New Mexico

  • Adults drinking excessively: 13.8%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.1% (25th highest)
  1. Oklahoma

  • Adults drinking excessively: 13.9%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 29.9% (19th lowest)
  1. North Carolina

  • Adults drinking excessively: 14.9%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.3% (24th highest)
  1. Arkansas

  • Adults drinking excessively: 15.3%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 28.4% (13th lowest)
  1. Idaho

  • Adults drinking excessively: 15.4%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 28.4% (23rd highest)
  1. Maryland

  • Adults drinking excessively: 15.5%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.8% (20th highest)
  1. Nevada

  • Adults drinking excessively: 15.8%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.8% (21st highest)
  1. Arizona

  • Adults drinking excessively: 16.0%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 27.6% (9th lowest)
  1. Kentucky

  • Adults drinking excessively: 16.3%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 28.5% (14th lowest)
  1. South Carolina

  • Adults drinking excessively: 16.4%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 37.8% (7th highest)
  1. Delaware

  • Adults drinking excessively: 16.6%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 37.9% (6th highest)
  1. Indiana

  • Adults drinking excessively: 16.8%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 23.6% (5th lowest)
  1. Georgia

  • Adults drinking excessively: 16.8%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 23.4% (4th lowest)
  1. Kansas

  • Adults drinking excessively: 16.9%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 27.3% (8th lowest)
  1. Texas

  • Adults drinking excessively: 17.3%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 29.9% (8th lowest)
  1. Virginia

  • Adults drinking excessively: 17.4%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 30.5% (20th lowest)
  1. Florida

  • Adults drinking excessively: 17.4%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 28.2% (12th lowest)
  1. Wyoming

  • Adults drinking excessively: 15.5%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 35.3% (10th highest)
  1. New Jersey

  • Adults drinking excessively: 17.6%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 24.3% (20th lowest)
  1. Missouri

  • Adults drinking excessively: 17.7%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 31.7% (23rd lowest)
  1. South Dakota

  • Adults drinking excessively: 17.7%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 35.2% (11th highest)
  1. Washington

  • Adults drinking excessively: 17.8%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 35.0% (12th highest)
  1. Rhode Island

  • Adults drinking excessively: 17.9%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 40.4% (3rd highest)
  1. California

  • Adults drinking excessively: 18.0%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 29.0% (15th lowest)
  1. Pennsylvania

  • Adults drinking excessively: 18.1%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.0% (24th lowest)
  1. New York

  • Adults drinking excessively: 18.2%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 23.0% (2nd lowest)
  1. New Hampshire

  • Adults drinking excessively: 18.4%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 31.2% (22nd lowest)
  1. Connecticut

  • Adults drinking excessively: 18.6%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 33.4% (18th highest)
  1. Louisiana

  • Adults drinking excessively: 18.8%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.6% (22th highest)
  1. Oregon

  • Adults drinking excessively: 18.8%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 32.8% (19th highest)
  1. Colorado

  • Adults drinking excessively: 19.1%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 34.7% (13th highest)
  1. Ohio

  • Adults drinking excessively: 19.2%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 34.3% (14th highest)
  1. Massachusetts

  • Adults drinking excessively: 19.5%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 27.8% (10th lowest)
  1. Vermont

  • Adults drinking excessively: 19.6%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 33.4% (17th highest)
  1. Maine

  • Adults drinking excessively: 19.6%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 39.8% (4th highest)
  1. Michigan

  • Adults drinking excessively: 20.0%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 29.4% (16th lowest)
  1. Nebraska

  • Adults drinking excessively: 20.4%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 35.6% (9th highest)
  1. Hawaii

  • Adults drinking excessively: 20.5%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 38.0% (5th highest)
  1. Iowa

  • Adults drinking excessively: 21.0%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 25.4% (7th highest)
  1. Minnesota

  • Adults drinking excessively: 21.1%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 30.9% (21st lowest)
  1. Illinois

  • Adults drinking excessively: 21.2%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 34.2% (15th highest)
  1. Montana

  • Adults drinking excessively: 21.8%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 46.3% (2nd highest)
  1. Alaska

  • Adults drinking excessively: 22.1%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 33.8% (16th highest)
  1. Wisconsin

  • Adults drinking excessively: 24.5%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 36.9% (8th highest)
  1. North Dakota

  • Adults drinking excessively: 24.7%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths: 46.7% (the highest)

What State Stats Tell Us

Looking at some of the data, you might be surprised at where some of these states ended up in the rankings. One thing that comes to no surprise is that the state with the highest rate of excessive drinking- North Dakota- also has the highest rates of alcohol-related driving deaths.

But there are things that you might not be able to tell from these numbers at face value. For one, the director of the NIAAA George Koob claims,

“There is a clear correlation between a state’s excessive drinking rate and income.”

For example, the top 25 states with higher drinking rates also have similarly high median household income. Out of those 25, 14 of them have incomes that exceed the national average of $57,617. Compare that to the 10 states with the lowest drinking rates, with 9 of them having household incomes well below that same average.

However, Koob cautions us not to see this correlation too cut and dry, stating:

“If you look at individuals, the [drinking-to-household income] pattern is somewhat different.”

Someone may look at the report and suggest that affluent individuals frequently drink to excess, however, they don’t appear to drink as heavily. In fact, it seems low-income individuals drink to excess less frequently, but when they drink, they drink heavily more consistently.

Overall, we should take notice of just how prevalent excessive drinking is in different areas all over the country.  In 2016 the population of North Dakota (#1 on the list) was around 757,952. Based on this number, 24.7% excessive drinking comes out to around 187,214 adults. Even with Tennessee, the state with the lowest rate, the numbers are pretty serious. With a 2016 population of 6.651 million, 11.2% comes out to 744,912 adults drinking excessively. So almost the entire population of North Dakota.

We have to be able to acknowledge risk behavior like excessive and heavy drinking in order to help those who may be struggling with alcohol use disorder. With alcohol doing real damage to so many lives in every corner of America, providing treatment programs for those struggling with alcohol use disorder is incredibly important. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. You are not alone.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Palm Healthcare Company Blog: Top 9 Stories from 2017

Palm Healthcare Company Blog: Top 9 Stories from 2017

With the beginning of the new year, Palm Healthcare Company is looking forward to helping spread more exciting stories of experience, strength, and hope while also sharing important news stories and exciting new developments that relate to the world of addiction recovery and substance use disorder treatment. As we commit ourselves to another year of fighting alongside thousands of people working toward a better future, we would also like to take some time looking back on all the big moments in 2017 that we shared with our Palm Healthcare Company Blog.

  1. President Trump Declares Public Health Emergency: What’s the Plan?

President Trump Declares Public Health Emergency: What’s the Plan?

October of 2017, President Donald Trump made an announcement declaring the opioid crisis in America as a Public Health Emergency. This highly anticipated declaration was delivered in a way slightly different than many had expected, noting the technical differences between a Public Health Emergency and a National Emergency.

Many advocates were concerned that this announcement did not provide a concrete foundation for the necessary federal funding and did not initiate much-needed action, but others we assured that this means the Trump administration was taking this issue very seriously. In this article, we took a look at what this announcement did actually accomplish, and what it failed to deliver on.

  1. Racketeering for Fentanyl: Opioid Maker Insys Founder Arrested for Bribes

Racketeering for Fentanyl: Opioid Maker Insys Founder Arrested for Bribes

A huge development to another story came in late 2017 when John Kapoor, former CEO of Insys Therapeutics and founding father of one of the most prominent opioid manufacturers in the country, was arrested and charged with conspiring to push the signature drug of Insys Therapeutics, a Fentanyl spray called Subsys, for unacceptable uses through bribes and kickbacks.

The Palm Healthcare Company blog notes how back in 2016 the Justice Department reported to be charging 6 former executives and sales-managers of Insys Therapeutics for conspiring to defraud health insurers.

When looking at the details in this story, it has intensified the conversation about Big Pharma involvement in the epidemic

  1. Can Kellyanne Conway Really Compete with the Opioid Crisis?

Can Kellyanne Conway Really Compete with the Opioid Crisis?

Not too long after President Trump’s declaration of a Public Health Emergency pertaining to the opioid crisis, Kellyanne Conway was announced as leading the charge on the White House’s efforts for addressing the opioid epidemic.

This Palm Healthcare Company blog saw a lot of comments!

While some find that having a high-profile figure at the head of the efforts gives validity to the White House’s commitment to solving the opioid issue in America, many others are speaking out in frustration. Those in opposition to this appointment say that while she may be useful as a counselor or pollster, she has no experience of expertise when it comes to drug abuse, addiction or substance use disorder treatment.

Thus far the one thing both Kellyanne and the President seem adamant about is a media campaign, but advocates are still afraid this is more “Just Say No” and not enough support for effective resources.

  1. After Las Vegas Shooting: PTSD and Mental Health Must be Priority

After Las Vegas Shooting: PTSD and Mental Health Must be Priority

In early October of 2016, the nation was shaken to its core when Las Vegas had one of the deadliest shootings in modern American history. This horrific tragedy flooded newsrooms and live viral footage with the country watching in shock as a gunman killed 58 people and injured 546 more at an outdoor music festival.

In the aftermath of this terrible and heartbreaking incident, our Palm Healthcare Company blog took a look at how such traumatic experiences impact people, and about the importance of those who struggle with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) getting proper diagnosis and care.

At a time when so many people are self-medicating with dangerous or even deadly narcotics, it is important to care for those most vulnerable, especially after such an earth-shattering experience.

  1. Police Helping Addicts into Treatment is a Growing Trend Saving Lives 

Police Helping Addicts into Treatment is a Growing Trend Saving Lives

In August of 2017, we took a look back at several programs that had come to light all over the country based on Police Departments working with their communities to offer drug users the chance to get help with addiction treatment instead of being arrested and charged.

The pioneering program came from Gloucester Police Department in Massachusetts back in 2015. This program allowed users to ask police for help, and told addicts they could submit drugs to local law enforcement without fear of being arrested if they were willing to seek treatment. A 2016 study showed that this program was experiencing some impressive success.

Police departments in a number of other states were inspired by this and took up similar programs as a way to help their communities fight the addiction outbreak.

The Palm Healthcare Company blog took a close look at a handful of these programs to celebrate their compassion and success.

  1. Sterilized for Cash: This Woman Pays Drug Addicts to Not Have Kids 

Pregnant lady’s stomach and her hand holding dollar over black background

When we posted this Palm Healthcare Company blog we saw a great deal of debate in the comments on our Facebook. For over 20 years, Barbara Harris has driven across the country using cash to ask addicted women to give up their fertility. To date, the organization has paid over 7,000 people.

The controversy around such a powerful story had some people showing a great deal of support for someone giving addicted women an incentive to not get pregnant, while other people were appalled and angered that someone would entice desperate women who are not in the right mindset to make such dramatic and life-altering decisions with their bodies.

  1. What Chester Bennington Taught Us about Addiction and Depression

What Chester Bennington Taught Us about Addiction and Depression

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

In July of 2017, the world lost a great artist and inspirational musician with the death of Chester Bennington, the lead singer of the band Linkin Park.

Initial reports were that Bennington had died from suicide by hanging, with later reports indicating that Chester had been drinking at the time of his death. The vocalist had been open about his struggles with depression and drug addiction over the years, and in this article, we took a look at just how much Chester Bennington could teach us about the devastation of depression and addiction.

  1. Dear Media, Thank You for Bad Press 

Dear Media, Thank You for Bad Press: Love, South Florida

South Florida has been under a great deal of scrutiny recently, specifically concerning the issues facing the recovery community such as unethical and illegitimate sober home operators in the area. In June, there was a Megyn Kelly NBC News Investigation which focused in on Delray Beach, Florida and some of the big problems concerning unscrupulous activities from corrupt individuals exploiting drug addicts in need of help.

We took this time to look over some of the bigger stories concerning the illicit activities in South Florida with the recovery industry while showing support and gratitude for all those working together to try and put an end to operators who are taking advantage of people in need of help.

  1. Palm Healthcare Measures Up to Addiction Treatment Outline for EAP

Palm Healthcare Measures Up to Addiction Treatment Outline for EAPs

In September of 2017, we took a very close look at an article written by the Journal of Employee Assistance that was designed to help Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) find the right kind of addiction treatment programs to recommend to their clients.

The outline given for EAPs to find effective and reliable addiction treatment options gives a list of things to look for. The Palm Healthcare Company blog was happy to show off just how all of our facilities measure up to these crucial standards.

Keep an Eye Out for More

Palm Healthcare Company continues to try and share every treatment development, news story or exciting innovation on our blog to not only help more people learn and raise awareness but to offer some perspective and maybe ask some new questions.

Whether it is sports, celebrities, news or politics we are committed to talking about important stories that pertain to drug policy in America, substance use disorder, mental health, and personal wellness. We will continue to touch on the top stories of 2018 to spread the word and hopefully inspire more people to get involved in these crucial conversations.

2017 was an intense, innovative and inspiring year. Here is to hope for 2018.

Holistic addiction treatment means incorporating every aspect of life for each individual with personalized opportunities for lasting recovery. So every bit of information can help anyone make a more comprehensive decision about what kind of recovery plan they want. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Opioid Commission Demands Insurance Companies Cover Treatment

Opioid Commission Demands Insurance Companies Cover Treatment

If that headline seems kind of confusing, don’t worry, it should. Technically insurance companies are already required by law to provide the same coverage for substance abuse and mental health that they do for other health conditions… and therein lies the issue.

Back in August the White House Opioid Commission, established by President Trump and led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, made several recommendations to the current administration about how to address the current drug crisis as it damages communities across the country. One of those recommendations was to declare a national emergency, while others had to do with options for prevention and education.

In the aftermath of ex-DEA agent Joe Rannazzisi’s eye-opening interview exposing the shady connections between Congress and Big Pharma companies, many have been looking closely at how government officials and multi-billion dollar empires helped create the opioid epidemic. Now the White House’s Opioid Commission is putting a focus on how health insurance companies and the flaws in their policies have contributed to the intensifying addiction crisis.

So with the opioid commission saying they will call-out insurers and make demands on coverage for addiction treatment, will more people have access to help?

Restricted Addiction Treatment

One of the biggest issues the opioid commission seems to have with insurance companies is that frequently their policies only cover one type of addiction treatment and not others. It seems insurance companies are convinced that with a complex and extremely personal issue like substance use disorder or mental health conditions, there is a one-size-fits-all answer. Sadly, most advocates can tell you this isn’t the case.

Something else especially frustrating is that laws already exist to prevent insurers from treating addiction treatment different than any other health issue. Chris Christie himself said,

“Why are we still not seeing addiction services covered, and mental health services covered as broadly as every other type of disease?”

“And what do we need to do to make sure that the law is enforced and followed?”

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 requires health insurers to treat mental health and substance abuse disorders the same as any other disease. It means they should provide health care coverage for these conditions without additional limits, co-pays or deductibles. If companies add on additional requirements, it creates even more barriers between the suffering individual and treatment. Sadly, not every insurance company thinks it has to play by the rules.

A task force convened by President Barack Obama last year reported that numerous insurance companies still place a number of limits on addiction coverage, like more strict pre-authorization requirements. The insurance companies claim that their policies are only part of a complex problem, insisting that the issue also has to do with shortages of doctors and poor medical training from healthcare providers in the field of addiction treatment.

However, the simple fact that insurance companies are still trying to push back against supporting addiction treatment has the opioid commission ready to address the inconsistencies that are making it even harder for people who need help to get the help they deserve.

Holding Insurance Companies Accountable

The opioid commission is not holding back when it comes to trying to make insurance companies contribute to solutions since they helped contribute to the problem. The New Jersey Governor warned health insurance companies to be prepared for a final report that will “place new demands” on health insurance policies.

Christie and the opioid commission seem to be playing offense, saying Big Pharma drug companies and health insurers profit while allowing an epidemic of addiction to continue, but these new demands will hopefully change all that. Christie added,

“I’m a capitalist. I want everybody to make profits. I think it’s great. But we can’t any longer go about addressing this problem this way,”

“I hope you’re prepared to accept the challenge, because we know if it hasn’t gotten into your own house yet, it could, and then all the sudden your perspective on this problem could become markedly different.”

Not only is there more pressure on insurance companies when it comes to treatment options in their policies, but with how they handle medications in the first place.

Health insurance providers are also under a greater deal of scrutiny for policies that sometimes favor powerful and addictive painkillers over less addictive, and more expensive, variations. So not only are they limiting the options when it comes to getting treatment for substance abuse, but they are limiting coverage of medications to more addictive drugs to save money.

Insurance providers did show up to testify at the commission to help create a more comprehensive view of the issue. Involved were executives from some of the nation’s largest insurance companies:

  • Aetna
  • Anthem
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Cigna
  • Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • UnitedHealth Group
  • UPMC Health Plan

Representative Elijah Cummings, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, also has questions for many of those same companies. Some of these inquiries stem from a report by The New York Times last month stating insurance companies “erected more hurdles to approving addiction treatments than for the addictive substances themselves.”

Cummings wrote letters to seven of the companies which state,

“This is not a hypothetical problem. The over-prescription of opioids leads to addiction and death.”

The White House’s opioid commission has also spoken with leaders in the pharmaceutical industry. All this shows that the opioid commission is not only worried about exploring our options for fixing the issue but also in examining all the elements that helped cause the opioid epidemic in America. Christie says the final report to President Trump will include sweeping recommendations but will also be “extraordinarily instructive in terms of how we got here, which is an important thing for this commission to acknowledge.”

The commission will hold its last meeting November 1st before delivering its final report to the President. Only time will tell what demands this report plans to place on insurance companies to provide more coverage for addiction treatment services.

Will Insurance Companies Change?

The big question becomes how will this impact the services offered by insurance companies. Will the opioid commission’s suggestions help shape new policies, or will some insurance companies continue to ignore the parity laws put in place to make sure they do not discriminate against the treatment of substance abuse?

Will these changes allow for the coverage of different innovative and holistic treatment options, or will the change only support programs that depend on maintenance drugs like methadone or Suboxone?

Hopefully, the new demands being put on insurance companies will help to support mental health and substance abuse parity. When it comes to addressing addiction in America, we need every resource we can get in order to move forward with overcoming the opioid epidemic. With more officials taking a closer look at every aspect of the issue, perhaps we can get a more effective strategy for addressing the problem.

With so many people struggling with opioids and other drugs across the country, comprehensive and effective treatment is essential to making any real progress. For decades Palm Healthcare Company facilities have been providing holistic addiction treatment options that help create lasting change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

5 Big Ways America Can Overcome the Opioid Epidemic

5 Big Ways America Can Overcome the Opioid Epidemic

Drug overdoses killed 64,000 Americans last year. That is an increase of more than 20% than the overdose deaths in 2015. Those numbers have nearly quadrupled since 2000. Now nearly two-thirds of overdose deaths are from by opioids. Some are from prescription opioids; others are from illicit heroin or synthetics like fentanyl.

However, some are concerned that the action we have seen thus far is too little too late. The president’s 2018 budget only increases addiction treatment funding by less than 2%. That already includes the $500 million appropriated by Congress in 2016 under the 21st Century Cures Act. So needless to say, many recovery advocates worry that the resources are just not going to be enough.

If we look at the recommendations of the president’s opioid commission, and at other initiatives that have started to gain some traction across the country, we can find patterns. There are some concepts that consistently show up, and perhaps if we focus on these similarities, we can see why so many minds are thinking alike.

So here are 5 big ways America can overcome the opioid epidemic.

  1. Break the Stigma

In order to accomplish most of the things on this list, America first has to consistently fight to break the stigma of drug use and addiction. Misunderstanding what addiction is and how it happens only undermines progress to addressing it. If America hopes to overcome the opioid crisis, we have to be more willing to see it for what it is.

Right now the issue of addiction stigma is still a big deal. While we may have come a long way from how it was decades ago, there are still a lot of people who refuse to consider addiction as an illness. A lot of people still refuse to acknowledge the various factors that contribute to addiction, such as genetic predisposition and instead insist addiction is purely by choice.

If we can see how drug use affects people from all different walks of life, and for countless different reasons, we can then treat those suffering from more compassion. Finding more effective methods of treatment means having a better idea of what really causes addiction, and what feeds it.

  1. Support PAARI, NOT Punishment

Speaking of compassion, supporting PAARI and not punishment is a perfect example of letting go of stigma to work toward saving lives.

It is about time that all of America realizes that the old ways of the failed War on Drugs do not work. Thankfully, it seems a lot more people across the country now understand that we cannot arrest our way out of this problem. Harsher punishments and severe sentences have not deterred addiction, they only support stigma.

Now in America, there are nearly 300 law enforcement agencies across 31 states that have Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative programs (PAARI). These PAARI programs offer treatment for drug users who come to authorities looking for a way out. Instead of fearing the threat of arrest, people struggling with substances are encouraged to reach out to law enforcement in order to be put in contact with treatment options or recovery networks.

This revolutionary new mindset was inspired by a department in Gloucester, Massachusetts not too long ago. So far these efforts appear to cost much less and with better results than efforts focused on punishing addicts.

  1. Create Resources for Treatment

Today addiction medicine is an urgently needed specialty, but there is not much glory in it compared to other areas of medical work. One way the federal government could help create more resources for treatment is to provide tuition incentives for medical students to enter addiction-related specialties and work in underserved communities. By encouraging this kind of work, we further shed the stigma of addiction and shift the perspective to helping care for a vulnerable community.

But don’t just end with specialists.

By supporting things like Medicaid expansion, addiction and mental health treatment can be made available to more people who may not have access to healthcare under limited coverage. More state and federal funding can also be allocated by officials to help build or strengthen addiction treatment programs provided by the state.

  1. Enforce Mental Health Parity

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 actually requires insurers provide equal benefits for mental health and addiction treatment that they do with other medical therapies or surgery. Thus, the law means to make discrimination against addicts by insurers illegal.

However, some insurers defy this law by imposing illogical treatment limits or tedious authorization requirements. In other words, insurance companies are finding ways to cheat the system in order to avoid paying for addiction and mental health treatment.

America and our government must to better to enforce mental health parity. If we want people to get the treatment they need, we have to protect their right to treatment and assure that insurance providers won’t be able to skip out on the bill.

According to John Renner, president of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, between 50%- 70% of people with substance abuse problems also suffer from a mental health disorder such as:

  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

With mental health and addiction so closely related, making sure those struggling with opioids and other substances receive care for mental health disorders or other co-occurring conditions it vital to lasting recovery.

  1. Preserve life

First and foremost; preserve life! This should always be a priority when facing any kind of epidemic. Regardless of the circumstances, the preservation of life should always be paramount. This is a discussion that has become crucial in the fight against opioids considering the need for life-saving medications and harm reduction tactics.

At the moment, first responders and emergency rooms do not have adequate access to Naloxone or Narcan, the opioid overdose antidote, to save lives. Both federal and state health agencies can negotiate pricing for naloxone and expand access. They can also encourage pharmacies that offer prescription-free access in some areas.

Another aspect of saving lives involves harm reduction strategies, which tend to be a little more controversial. Not everyone likes to support programs like safe injection sites or needle exchange programs. However, whether you think these programs enable addiction or not, these programs are proven to help preserve life. Between preventing the spread of infectious disease and providing a supported environment in case of overdose, these harm reduction models can prevent a lot of needless loss of life.

One indisputable precedence in the effort to overcome opioids is keeping people suffering alive long enough to get them treatment. The more people we can help survive opioid addiction, the more people have a chance of recovering.

Drug abuse and addiction is a devastating and deadly disease, and providing effective and compassionate treatment makes a lifelong difference. Part of solving the problem is changing the way we look at it and changing how we treat each other. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Palm Healthcare Company Presents The Pain Recovery Program

Palm Healthcare Company Presents The Pain Recovery Program

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Palm Healthcare knows the importance of addressing the multi-faceted needs of the individual who suffers from chronic pain. This is why we created the Pain Recovery Program. A person in pain is not only concerned about reclaiming their own sense of well-being and functioning. They are also concerned about reclaiming their sense of purpose, independence, and direction to life.

Palm Healthcare Pain Recovery Program

The focus of the Pain Recovery Program is assisting that person in pain in reclaiming all aspects of their life. Palm Healthcare utilizes a comprehensive bio-psychosocial perspective while incorporating the latest holistic, traditional, and state of the art, non-invasive technology and interventions.

Individuals participating in The Pain Recovery Program are provided a variety of treatment options that include:

  • Medication management
  • Nutraceutical (vitamin) therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Strength and conditioning
  • Massage
  • Muscle manipulation therapy
  • Chiropractic care
  • Aquatic therapy
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Biofeedback

Each person in The Pain Recovery Program will receive a personalized treatment plan based on comprehensive evaluations and the specific needs of the individual and their specific needs.

Connecting Pain and Addiction

Part of overcoming pain while overcoming addiction is understanding how the two are so closely related. Patients who are struggling with one or both of these conditions often report adverse symptoms such as:

Chronic pain and substance use disorder (SUD) have similar physical, social, emotional, and economic effects on health and well-being; one can easily be confused for the other, while both can exacerbate each other.

Pain in the Brain

Chronic pain and addiction actually have many of the same exact neurophysiological patterns.

For instance: Chronis pain involves abnormal neural processing. Coincidentally, addiction results when normal neural processes are altered into dysfunctional patterns, including disruptions in:

The truth is, there is still a lot to learn about both of these conditions, including patterns of severity, the course of development and responses to treatment.

Emotional Responses

Gauging and effectively addressing emotional responses is also crucial to effective and lasting pain treatment.

Pain and Emotions

Continued pain can also cause emotional responses, such as:

  • Sleeplessness
  • Anxiety
  • Depressive symptoms

Each of these experiences can even turn into more pain. Even after these psychological causes have been addressed the feedback effect can still cause pain in the body.

In fact, there are many studies that indicate pain treatment has worse outcomes when depression is a factor. Some experts say you can even predict how a pain syndrome will evolve based on the emotional status of the patient.

Emotions and SUD

With substance use disorder, the individual’s emotional state is a core cause of continuous drug use. People who use drugs often experience these same emotional responses like anxiety and depression as a result of isolation, social and professional hardships and other side-effects of their drug use. Not to mention the way certain drugs impact the brain. Emotional and psychological trauma can be just as severe for these individuals as physical trauma.

On the other hand, some people may already have a history of experiencing these emotional difficulties and actually be trying to treat themselves by abusing drugs. This feeds into the cycle of emotional distress and substance use.

Complicated Relationship

Both addiction and chronic pain fluctuate in intensity with time under different circumstances. Depending on what is going on in someone’s life, their pain may get worse or seem to disappear, just like an addiction may seem controllable for a time before hitting another harsh bottom.

Both often require ongoing management. But the difficulty can also be that these two conditions feed into each other in a very complicated, and at times toxic, relationship.

Treatment for one can either support or conflict with the other.

The Painful Cycle of Addiction

One of the many difficulties many people experience when trying to overcome addiction while struggling with chronic pain syndrome is that there is a cycle of pain- drugs- more pain- more drugs that seems inescapable.

For example- Narcotic medication typically prescribed for chronic pain may be an issue for someone with a history of substance use disorder.

But then if someone uses a narcotic prescription pain medication, such as opioid analgesics, it can create a physical dependence. Then when the substance is absent from the body the withdrawal symptoms set in.

Withdrawal and Pain

Withdrawal symptoms frequently lead to an increase in symptoms of anxiety and depression, while creating even more physical pain. In turn, the anxiety and depression from withdrawal can contribute to that pain even further.

This pain and distress can provoke a severe obsession with whatever substance the individual was relying on to provide relief. In other words, the individual will crave the drug even more because they are not only experiencing the psychological distress from their brain lacking the drug, they are also experiencing a magnified sense of pain from the experience as well.

Again, the cycle of pain- seeking relief from the pain through substances- recurring pain- continued substance use making the problem worse. The Pain Recovery Program is about interupting this self-destructive cycle with new, sustainable methods of pain management.

The Importance of Treating Pain and Addiction

Substance use disorder in relation to prescription pain medication is widely misunderstood, and while some programs focus on treating the addiction, if there is no way of addressing the chronic pain it does not help the chances of successful recovery. Part of working with chronic pain patients struggling with addiction is education on both conditions while providing effective treatment opportunities simultaneously.

Providing pain management opportunities for the U.S. population struggling with substance use disorder is a unique challenge for many primary care physicians. That is why experienced professionals in the field of drug and alcohol addiction treatment are in a unique position to help.

First, we need to acknowledge a few issues, including:

  1. People recovering from addiction experiencing pain are less likely to receive adequate pain management than anyone else.
  2. Insufficient pain relief is a substantial risk factor for possible relapse into substance use.
  3. It is crucial to distinguishing between patients who are seeking relief for legitimate pain and those who are seeking pain medication for recreational abuse
  4. Psychiatric and medical illnesses can complicate effective pain management

Experts believe that addiction specialists, in particular, can make significant contributions to the management of chronic pain in patients who suffer from substance use disorder. Addiction specialists can:

  • Help create safeguards to assure any pain medication is taken appropriately
  • Reinforce behavioral and self-care components of pain management
  • Help individuals with strategies to reduce stress
  • Assess patients’ recovery support systems
  • Help to understand and identify relapse risks

Chronic pain management can be a complex process. Experts say that the efficiency of treatment is amplified when all medical and behavioral healthcare professionals involved collaborate as a team. Palm Healthcare Company’s Pain Recovery Program is all about a united effort toward treating both conditions with a variety of experienced professionals and trainers.

Considering how urgent the addiction epidemic is, and the fact that many people struggling with addiction do suffer from chronic pain, it is so important to have programs like this available. Education, support and relapse prevention is the key. If your or someone you love is struggling with substance use disorder and chronic pain, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

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