Targeting fraud and abuse in the drug treatment and sober home industries, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg recently announced that he has launched a web site, www.fixthefloridashuffle.com, to convince federal policymakers to change the laws that have unwittingly led to thousands of opioid-related deaths throughout the country.
“The Florida Shuffle” refers to illegal patient brokering and insurance fraud within the drug treatment industry that keeps patients in an unending cycle of opioid dependence. “Although there are many good drug treatment and sober living providers in Florida and elsewhere, the unscrupulous ones encourage relapse over recovery to line their pockets with insurance money and financial kickbacks,” Aronberg said.
Aronberg, who has fought opioid abuse since 2001 as a Florida assistant attorney general, state senator and now as state attorney, urged congressional action during testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce last December. He currently leads a Sober Homes Task Force that has made 54 arrests and 22 convictions since October 2016, and led to changes in Florida law that enhanced criminal penalties and tightened oversight over the rehab industry.
Aronberg said the web site was a response to the federal government’s failure to address this crisis. “The web site shows the public and the policymakers themselves how well-intended laws such as the Affordable Care Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act have been misused by unscrupulous individuals within the rehab industry for financial gain to keep addicts in a perpetual cycle of relapse,” he said.
The web site includes an explanation of the Florida Shuffle along with specific proposals to fix it, an updating news section about the issue, social media links and an online petition to urge federal action.
One of the proposals on the new web site is for Congress to pass the “Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act” by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), which would expand the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Justice to prosecute patient brokering kickbacks involving private sector rehab. Aronberg has worked with both Rubio and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) on these issues, which led to the recent introduction of this legislation.