May 22, 2017
THE PRIVATE SECTOR ISN’T THE PROBLEM IN THE OPIOID CRISIS. IT MAY BE THE SOLUTION Palm Beach County is the drug treatment capital of America, if not the world. For the past several months, there have been daily reports of deaths and overdoses. Some argue that the threat posed by terrorism pales in comparison to the threat posed by the opioid crisis. That being said, Florida Governor, Rick Scott, has recently declared a State of Emergency, reportedly giving the State access to $27 million in Federal funds. Some have argued that we should use the money to make more “county” beds available to treat addicts. Perhaps we should consider re-opening facilities such as the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Drug Farm. While county facilities should be granted access to the funds, I submit that the private sector, despite arrests for insurance fraud and patient brokering, is the solution. There are beds available immediately, and the will and knowledge to treat patients. When it comes to the private sector successfully working in partnership with Government to solve a community issue, look no further than the pre-school industry. For close to 20 years my parents successfully owned and operated a chain of pre-schools, all regulated and licensed by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCF), which also regulates and licenses drug treatment facilities in Florida. My parents were responsible for educating thousands of children in Palm Beach County, but after the crash of 2008, they almost lost everything, many families finding themselves unable to afford pre-school. The business was saved when the State and County stepped in and subsidized tuition so children could go to school with their families paying the remaining balance based on income. While tuition payments were always one month in arrears, they were always paid. It takes seven to ten days to detox an individual who is addicted to drugs and alcohol before treatment can begin. Even when insurance coverage is available to pay for treatment, many treatment centers complain that insurance will only pay for 30 days of treatment, hardly enough to cure someone who’s been addicted to drugs and alcohol for many years, and who may also have a co-occurring mental health disorder. What happens when there is no insurance coverage or cash pay available? Treatment must be available to everyone, regardless of insurance and financial status. This is my plan to accomplish this goal: First, the emergency funds need to be made available to private “for profit” treatment centers. A list needs to be compiled of all treatment centers which would be good candidates to accept government subsidized patients. Centers with significant disciplinary issues, or where there has been insurance fraud, may not be good candidates. Second, of the eligible centers, a list needs to be compiled of those that will accept patients at a reduced payment rate, knowing that payment is guaranteed (which is better than having to fight with an insurance company and still having to take less money), should be an incentive.