Insurance Fraud NEWS
New York warns about dangers of brokering patients for opioids
December 29, 2017, New York, NY
Public-health officials issued a warning about addiction treatment fraud targeting New Yorkers in the grips of the opioid epidemic ravaging the country.
The fraud involves someone struggling with addiction being recruited by so-called patient brokers who collect payments from treatment providers for each referral, said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
"Vulnerable New Yorkers struggling with addiction are being targeted and falsely promised life-saving treatment services and then are given inadequate and ineffective treatment at outrageous costs," Cuomo said.
The warning came as New York launched a public awareness campaign seeking to curb the patient brokering.
Cuomo urged the public to report suspicious patient referrals to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, which is offering a range of educational outreach to get patients to legitimate treatment programs.
New York became the latest state to focus on the dark world of patient brokering that often involves shadowy addiction recovery facilities in Florida, Arizona and California.
Recruiters often use social media, texts, emails and other techniques to scam people into signing up for out-of-state addiction recovery facilities that offer little or no treatment, Massachusetts officials recently said in a consumer advisory about the scam.
In Arizona, a prominent health insurance provider was locked in a legal battle connected to concerns of rampant addiction treatment fraud there, USA TODAY Network reported.
New York recently took steps to limit the fraud.
The state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, or OASAS, issued a directive that requires patient referrals to be delivered by certified and credentialed professionals, who are prohibited from receiving referral fees.
"This campaign will ensure that people who need treatment are not sent to substandard out of state providers, which do not provide the same level of care offered by providers regulated by OASAS in New York,” said Evan Frost, an agency spokesman.
The state agency also released a video, posters and other tips about spotting addiction treatment scams.
New Yorkers can report suspicious activity by calling 1-800-553-5790 or emailing StopTreatmentFraud@oasas.ny.gov. The state agency is currently reviewing more than 10 complaints of patient brokering.
For information about finding legitimate treatment services, call the state's toll-free HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (Short Code 467369).
"Making the decision to seek treatment is a critical first step for many people with substance use disorders and their families,” said OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez.
“Their bravery needs to be rewarded with the services that can best help them get on the road to recovery."
Further tips intended to raise awareness of illicit addiction treatment patient brokers include a list offered by Massachusetts government officials.
Be wary of unsolicited referrals to out-of-state treatment facilities.
Anyone seeking to arrange for addiction treatment out of state may be getting paid by the treatment center.
Be wary of anyone offering to pay for your insurance coverage. They can stop paying your premiums at any time, which will result in the cancellation of your insurance.
If you accept an offer by someone to pay for travel to an out-of-state clinic, make sure you have a plan and the means to pay for a trip back home.
Be careful about giving your personal information — including your social security number or insurance number — to a recruiter, unless you can confirm that the person is employed by a medical provider or insurance company.
If someone is offering to arrange travel or cover insurance costs for treatment, call the treatment facility or your insurance company to confirm that the person is an employee.