Drugs

Drug treatment centers are warning about an alarming trend happening across the country called patient brokering. Patient brokering is when a treatment center pays someone to get an addict into treatment. 

“It’s fraudulent. It’s illegal, but it’s happens and they’re preying on very vulnerable people," said Jay Crosson, CEO of Cumberland Heights in Nashville. “Patient brokering is happening in Tennessee.”

Crosson says those shoddy treatment centers make money but filing outrageously high insurance claims. 

“I’ve seen $160,000 for urine drug screen billings in two months," said Crosson.

A Nashville man, who asked News4 not to identify him, says his mom thought she found the perfect rehab center for him in Florida. 

“She looked up a place online and it looked nice and everything," he said. “It was a terrible living situation.”

He was in and out of in-care patient centers, intensive out-patient centers and halfway houses in Florida for four years. He says the people in charge were open with him about luring addicts to their treatment center and making millions. 

“The kids that were coming to the house were the same kids over and over and over," he said. “Kids wound up overdosing at the house. Cops were coming to the house.”

Crosson says those fraudulent centers hurt legitimate rehab facilities like Cumberland Heights and make it difficult for addicts to receive treatment. 

“If they finally reach out and seek help, which is so hard for a lot of people with substance use disorders and they’re taken advantage of, we may never get another chance to help that person," said Crosson. 

Crosson says warning signs of a treatment center engaging in patient brokering include offering to give you free rent, pay for your plane ticket, or write off your deductible or co-pay. He says it's important to do your homework and avoid turning to Google to find a treatment center.

“If you type in addiction recovery in Nashville, you’ll get people that have no presence in Nashville whatsoever," said Crosson. 

Instead, he recommends speaking with a doctor or someone who has gone through a recovery program. 

Tennessee lawmakers passed a law in 2018 making patient brokering a Class E Felony, which is punishable by up to six years in prison. 

You can find out more information about Cumberland Heights by clicking here.

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Reporter

Kim St. Onge joined the News4 team as a reporter in January 2017.

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