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Long Island Patient Brokering Attorney

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As the nation and the state of New York continue to be roiled by the opioid epidemic, patient brokering in the drug rehabilitation industry has become an epidemic of its own. Patient brokering occurs when “brokers” receive payment from substance abuse treatment facilities, recovery homes and/or labs in exchange for steering patients to these establishments. If you have been accused of patient brokering or conspiracy to commit patient brokering, it is crucial to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Barket Epstein defends clients who have been charged with patient brokering throughout Long Island and the greater New York area. Well-versed in the applicable laws and court decisions governing patient brokering cases, we have the knowledge and skills that are necessary to protect your freedom. When you become our client, we will take the time to explain all your rights and choose the best line of defense.

What is patient brokering?

Patient brokering occurs when a drug rehabilitation facility or recovery home pays a third party for bringing patients to the facility. Although patients are led to believe they are being referred by a legitimate party, patient brokers and addiction treatment centers that rely on them are concerned about profits, rather than treating patients.

Patient brokering is common in the drug rehabilitation industry because patients and families are vulnerable and often don’t know where to find help. At the same time, rehabilitation programs are often underfunded and operators of drug treatment facilities often cut corners rather than develop successful outreach strategies to generate leads and referrals. The typical patient brokering scenario involves an arrangement between substance abuse treatment facility whereby on drug rehab center pays another a significant amount of money to refer patients for treatment and testing.

In some cases, the scheme might involve a network of recovery halfway houses, addiction treatment centers, and the patients. The treatment center will offer the halfway house money to refer residents recovering from substance abuse to the treatment facility for treatment and testing, then charge insurance companies, resulting in payouts of millions of dollars. At times, patient brokers target substance abusers directly, offering them money, free plane tickets, assistance with rent, or other incentives as an inducement to seek treatment at a particular facility or testing at a specific lab. These incentives may add up to several hundred dollars a week.

Finally, patient brokering often directly involves labs because the urine and blood specimens of substance abusers can be worth millions of dollars to lab operators, treatment centers and halfway houses. Labs pay treatment facilities to refer patients because insurance companies typically pay significant sums of money for every urine test the lab administers.

Ultimately, patient brokering is profitable not only for the treatment facilities involved, but also for many of the insured individuals. Unfortunately, patients who are brokered to treatment centers may not necessarily receive the proper treatment and subsequently relapse, only to be brokered to another treatment facility.

What laws prohibit patient brokering?

The federal Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act of 2018 (the Act) is designed to prevent patient brokering in treatment for substance abuse disorders. The act prohibits individuals from knowingly and willfully (1) soliciting or receiving remuneration in exchange for referring a patient to a recovery home, clinical treatment facility, or laboratory or (2) paying or offering remuneration to induce referral of an individual to a recovery home, clinical treatment facility or laboratory.

Unlike the federal Anti-Kickback Statute which only applies for federally supported government programs (e.g. Medicare, Medicaid), the Act applies to all payors, even where federal proceeds are not involved. The penalties for violations of the Act include imprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine up to $200,000. Moreover, the Act broadly defines facilities to include any entity or individual that provides addiction treatment and recovery services.

Currently, lawmakers in New York are also considering anti-patient brokering measures and the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse has launched a public awareness initiative to combat patient brokering. In the meantime, the harsh consequences of patient brokering under federal law makes having proper legal representation crucial.

Contact Our Long Island, New York Patient Brokering Attorney

If you have been charged with patient brokering, you face a lengthy prison sentence and severe financial penalties. Additionally, having a permanent criminal record can damage your reputation and interfere with employment and housing opportunities. When you consult Barker Epstein, you can trust us to provide you with aggressive legal representation and fight tirelessly to protect your rights. While our objective is to win an acquittal, we will carefully weigh the strength of the evidence against you and may recommend seeking a reduction of the charges and penalties instead. Don’t fight patient brokering charges alone. Contact our office today to set up a free consultation.