NEW YORK. According to NBC New York, Staten Island may see a 50 percent increase in overdose deaths in the next year. In preparation for a possible increase in the number of people who will require treatment, the Staten Island District Attorney has requested $1 million in funding so that individuals can be sent to treatment after their first arrest. The money would prevent first-time offenders from being sent to jail and would get them the treatment that they need. Individuals who are facing jail time for drug charges could then choose jail time or treatment.
In the wake of the increase of number of drug treatment centers and patients in Staten Island, some drug rehab clinics have been getting disturbing phone calls. The calls sometimes come from treatment centers in other states, like Florida or California. In other cases, the calls are from other areas in New York. Staten Island’s high rates of opioid addictions has made it infamous, and drug treatment organizations across the country are calling treatment centers in New York offering to pay clinics to refer patients. According to the New York Times, the practice is not necessarily illegal, but many consider it unethical.
Many drug treatment programs in New York City are not-for-profit, though some are for-profit. For individuals facing addiction issues, the Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, has made it easier and more affordable to access drug treatment. Yet, with patients having money behind them, some treatment centers are pushing to fill beds with patients who have good insurance.
According to the law, rewards, gifts, or compensation should not be permitted for a patient referral. Despite this, addiction centers report that they have been offered money for referrals. Federal law prohibits the payment for referrals for patients covered through Medicaid. The risk for patients is that they won’t receive the treatment they need. It’s hard to know whether the referral is due to the reputation of the place or due to the fact that someone is getting compensated for the referral. In some cases, patients are paid to refer friends, sending them to sunny states where the treatment may not be high-quality.
The legal ramifications of this problem affects both treatment centers, who may face increased scrutiny about how they refer patients, and the patients themselves who may be seeking recovery programs to avoid jail time. If you are facing a criminal law issue related to drug recovery, the Spodek Law Group, P.C. may be able to assist you. As it stands, every overdose in Staten Island is treated like a crime scene. Officers are trying to find out where people are getting the deadly heroin and opioids that are killing so many people in the city. At the end of the day, individuals affected by addiction need treatment and not jail time. Visit www.spodeklawgroup.com to learn more if you’re facing criminal charges for heroin possession. You may have alternatives.