With opioid addiction destroying families across the nation, there's a need now more than ever before for effective treatment centers to wean addicts off drugs and into recovery.
But investigators are noticing tons of insurance fraud that relies on keeping addicts hooked. More so, the focal point for this fraud is right here in South Florida.
Florida has the most sober homes per capita of any state. Opioid treatment fraud has also surfaced in California and Arizona, but Florida stands out because so many people come here for treatment.
Experts say false recovery programs make up a lethal, multi-million dollar cycle of intentional failure, involving unscrupulous treatment providers who profit by keeping and ultimately killing their clients.
Locally, law enforcement task forces have recently made more than 30 arrests surrounding the issue.
One operation alone — the Real Life Recovery treatment center in Delray and the Halfway There Florida home — collected almost $19 million by fraudulently billing insurance companies for $58 million over four years, according to the Orlando Sentinel. That case has not yet gone to trial.
The FBI has found unnecessary lab tests, or faked urine samples, double-billing and illegal kickbacks.
Some centers even withhold treatment or give patients addictive drugs so that they relapse and keep qualifying for coverage.