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A lucrative industry is sprouting up in exclusive, wealthy suburban neighborhoods, often without the benefit of any state oversight or inspections. “There is so much fraud in this industry and very little regulation,” O’Donnell said. “It’s frightening. I would not be comfortable trying to find another rehab facility for my son. I don’t trust anyone now.” Other states have started cracking down. Florida last year outlawed the practice of patient brokering, in which drug rehab operators pay middlemen to entice patients to cross state lines by offering to fly them to live in sober-living facilities. The brokers promise a vacation-like recovery atmosphere, but law-enforcement authorities have found substandard or no actual care in fraudulent facilities with rampant drug use and abuse among patients and staff. Colorado officials say they have heard of complaints about drug rehab patient brokering in the state, but the practice remains legal in Colorado. The state is powerless to regulate brokering since sober-living homes aren’t required to be licensed here. “We can only regulate through the laws that are set by the legislature of Colorado,” said Cristen Bates, a director in the Office of Behavioral Health at the Colorado Department of Human Services. “We are in regular conversations at an increasing rate on what a behavioral health license means in Colorado.” Community Recovery isn’t the only Colorado provider to generate controversy. Since early 2015, the state has received dozens of complaints against sober-living homes and outpatient therapy clinics run by Nathan Hardage of Colorado Springs. Colorado officials recently decided against renewing the state license for his CoreVision rehab operation that allows him to bill the state’s Medicaid program. Hardage, who is appealing his license renewal rejection, disputes allegations of misconduct. Former Community Recovery location on Race Street, Denver • Auto theft, trespass, suicidal person/suicide, welfare check, EMS request (1 each) A recent lawsuit Huerfano County filed against drug manufacturers and distributors also claims unscrupulous opioid rehab businesses in that county recruited addicts nationally with false and misleading promises. “Investigations revealed that many have provided substandard care including use of physicians who had their license revoked, operating staffs which do not actually supervise patients and facilities that do not operate programs for the addicts,” that lawsuit states. The Affordable Care Act, which bars insurers from discriminating against the mentally ill and those struggling with drug addiction, has created a huge incentive for the recovery industry.
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