health care corruption

Rehab Fraud Reason for NYC Drug Center Shutdown

In October 2014, some NYC drug treatment centers were shut down for rehab fraud, which sparked the question: Does this happen often?

It’s widely believed that an addict can’t be forced into recovery; he or she must choose to beat the addiction on his or her own. If a person is forced into treatment, it’s unlikely for the sobriety to become permanent since the individual doesn’t actually want to be sober.

In fact, this is the main reason why there are more and more drug courts giving addicted offenders the option to choose treatment or a prison sentence. At this point, a person is likely to realize that his or her addiction is the source of the individual’s troubles.

Entering a rehabilitation program is the preferred method for an addict to overcome his or her addiction. Although there are some other ways of getting sober, addiction treatment programs have proven to be the most effective, especially inpatient programs and a length of treatment that’s more than just the bare minimum.

It’s important for a person to find a quality facility that offers treatments that will sufficiently address his or her specific recovery needs. This is especially crucial given that there are a number of facilities in the US that aren’t actually concerned with helping people who suffer from addiction.

In fact, these facilities often exist for the sole purpose of taking advantage of addicts, often by profiteering off their need for treatment. This has actually been the case with a series of facilities in New York City that have recently come under scrutiny.

Potential Danger with Rehab Fraud

All around the country, there will occasionally be reports of a rehabilitation facility that’s found to have been breaking some law or even causing their patients harm. This is naturally going to be especially common in places where there are higher numbers of addiction treatment facilities, such as Florida—which has been referred to as the recovery capital of the world—and large cities and metropolitan areas such as New York City.

In areas where the population is high, there’s naturally going to be a higher demand for addiction treatment. However, in New York City only a certain number of facilities can be sustained in a such a limited amount of space in which there are many people in need of treatment.

This often means that people have very little choice in where they must go for treatment, forced to either enroll in whatever facility has availability or in the facility that is in the network of approved facilities of one’s insurance provider.

Allegations of Fraud at Narco Freedom Rehabs

The family-owned and operated Narco Freedom program, which runs a number of so-called Freedom Houses in New York City, was found to have been running an insurance fraud scheme in which they scammed tens of millions of dollars from insurance providers, Medicaid, and other government aid programs. According to officials who investigated the facilities, the Brand family began operating the Freedom House rehabs in 2006 and implemented the scheme almost immediately.

The Brands recruited homeless addicts, essentially forcing them outpatient, Medicaid-funded addiction treatment programs throughout the city; however, to receive Medicaid the patients were provided with living accommodations in the form of assigned beds in the programs 18 residential shelters called Freedom Houses, which were substandard and barely provided better accommodations that they had while homeless.

Reports indicate that many Freedom Houses had rodent and insect infestations, bedbugs, no running water, and other problems that made them unsuitable for human habitation. Once they were put up in the Freedom Houses and enrolled in Medicaid, the Brands would send them to one of several outpatient rehabs throughout NYC, each of which paid the Brands a significant kickback. Through this elaborate system, the Brands were able to net a staggering $40 million in Medicaid funds annually.

There were also other scams that the Brands had orchestrated, one of which was filing a multimillion dollar insurance claim after one of their facilities sustained damage from a hurricane in 2009. Alan Brand, the primary owner of the Freedom Houses, had the damage repaired by his son’s construction company, which actually cost the Brands very little.

They did not disclose the fact that they essentially repaired the damage themselves so Arch Insurance paid the family $3.5 million for their so-called losses. With the money that the family had obtained through fraud and various other schemes, they bought several mansions in Long Island and Florida as well as a fleet of expensive, luxury cars.

Owners of Narco Freedom Indicted

In addition to seizing the Brands’ expensive cars and properties, charges were filed against the family in the fall of 2014 with four more accomplices being pulled into the case and indicted the following spring. In September 2015, all Freedom Houses were ordered to cease operations, resulting in two other rehabilitation programs taking control of the facilities until alternative arrangements could be made for the 800 addicts who were residents at the time.

The fact that Narco Freedom was providing at least 10 percent of the methadone that NYC residents in recovery were taking complicated matters as they couldn’t simply be evicted, cut off from the methadone, and left to their own devices, especially since Narco Freedom had been dispensing methadone as part of a state contract.

Although little has been reported with regard to the specific consequences the Brands faced from their charges, it was last reported that each of the Freedom Houses have remained in operation since the trial concluded on September 22, 2015, when it was required that handover notices be posted on the doors of each Freedom House.

The ongoing problem seems to be finding adequate accommodations for all the people staying in the Freedom Houses who had previously tried other options and settled for a Freedom House as a last resort.

Health and Happiness Is One Phone Call Away—Call Drug Treatment Center Finder Today

Despite there being a number of rehabs found to be causing more harm to their patients than help, the vast majority of the treatment facilities that are available have only patients’ best interests at heart. However, steering clear of fraudulent rehabs is one of the many reasons why seeking treatment through Drug Treatment Center Finder’s free rehab-matching services is the best way to go.

If you or someone you know would like a free consultation and assessment from one of our experienced recovery specialists, call Drug Treatment Center Finder at 855-619-8070. Whether it’s day or night, call us to begin your journey back to health and happiness.

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