No More Empty Beds –
July 26, 2018 – This hearing focused on call centers, which refer callers to treatment facilities, and which people frequently find by searching for addiction help online. News investigations have found that unscrupulous call centers refer patients to shoddy facilities—especially patients with private insurance that they can bill—and often hide the fact that they’re paid by the treatment clinics to do so. Journalist Cat Ferguson found that the companies involved in the care of one call center user billed her insurance more than $3,600 for a urine test, for which Medicare reimburses less than $80, and nearly $75,000 overall for 11 days of alcoholism treatment … Some witnesses at the hearing suggested the companies they represent have made changes that Congress wants to see, but only very recently. The National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers updated its Code of Ethics in December and has kicked out dozens of members since. American Addiction Centers, a company headed by one of the other witnesses, was one of those expelled, for not branding its ownership clearly enough on the websites it owns, Ventrell said. And American Addiction Centers only started paying their call center workers salaries, instead of compensating them based on commission, on July 1st.