Sen. Rubio to Introduce Bill to Crackdown on Florida Shuffle

Have you heard of the Florida Shuffle? It’s not a new dance step, it’s what they call it when substance abusers come to Florida to get clean, leave treatment, continue using and come back again, all the while having their treatment paid for by insurance.

Florida is, according to published reports, the nation’s second most popular destination for for-profit drug treatment facilities. And, although in recent years lawmakers have been working to crackdown on fraudulent schemes plaguing the industry, the problem persists.

You likely have seen those ads running on television that urge people to call a toll-free number to get help for their addiction, for each call they get, they also are paid a referral fee. Now, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio is looking to crackdown even further on the industry. He is expected to introduce a bill that would make it illegal for drug addiction call centers to make money off questionable patient referrals and reward those treatment centers that have a solid history of successes.

A Palm Beach Post investigative series that exposed how sober house operators were gaming the system led Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg to create a sober house task force which meets monthly. The focus of the task force is to investigate and prosecute illegal activity in the county’s recovery industry. In addition to kickbacks, many sober houses have been found to bill for unnecessary testing and even holding patients “hostage” so they could continue to bill insurance companies. Delray Beach has been dubbed the “recovery capital of America” because of the number of treatment centers and sober homes located there.

This isn’t the first piece of legislation that’s targeted the problem. In May, Rubio and Florida Sen. Bill Nelson introduced a bipartisan bill dubbed the Sober Home Fraud Detection Act that would make public a list of those sober homes and drug treatment centers that are engaging in questionable practices. That information would be compiled and sent to insurance companies, law enforcement as well as local and state policymakers and the public.

And earlier in the year, Rubio sent letters to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the heads of two other government agencies urging them to go after disreputable treatment centers and sober homes in Florida “to ensure they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for the devastation they have caused.”

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