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House seeks intimate details from call centers about business practices

May 31, 2018

On Tuesday, a House committee sent letters to the executives of eight call center organizations, asking for details about how they handle callers seeking addiction treatment. The committee wants responses—in writing—to more than two dozen questions.

Requests demand specific information about which providers the call centers refer to, the payment structure for referrals, what the organizations disclose to callers about their affiliations, whether individuals are enrolled in insurance plans and much more. The letters even ask for information on the amount of money invested in paid search-engine advertising.

In its ongoing investigation, the House Energy and Commerce Committee got an earful from behavioral health executives about patient brokering, deceptive tactics and unethical practices. Doug Tieman, president and CEO of Caron Treatment Centers, said at a hearing in December 2017, “It feels more like vacation timeshare marketing than healthcare treatment.”

According to Mark Dunn, director of public policy for the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP), the association has been working with the House committee for months and supports efforts by Congress to identify and address ethical and quality issues in the field.

“This investigation undertaken by Congress on a bi-partisan basis, is welcomed by NAATP leadership,” Dunn said in an email. NAATP recently enhanced its ethics policy and has been screening out members that don’t meet the ethical standards.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee sent letters to:

  • Erik Epp, owner of Addiction No More;
  • Robert Niznik, CEO of Addiction Recovery Now;
  • Michael Cartwright, CEO of American Addiction Centers,
  • Thomas Kearns, CEO of Elite Rehab Placement,
  • Carmine Thompson, founder of Intervention Allies,
  • Jason Brian, founder of Redwood Recovery Center,
  • Dan Callahan, CEO of Solutions Recovery Center, and
  • Bryan Deering, vice president of Treatment Management Company.

Replies are due June 12.

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