Category Archives: Sober News

Rep. Frankel Raises Sober Home Issue on House Floor

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel discussed the “over-proliferation” of sober homes in South Florida during her comments in support of The Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act, HR 5046. HR 5046 does not specifically address sober homes, but Frankel used the opportunity to discuss the issue.

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Florida Legislature Lags on Sober House Legislation

The Florida Legislature has been passive when considering solutions to the sober house problem that South Florida faces. One potential explanation for the problem is that eight-year term limits prevent legislators from specializing in an issue.

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Delray’s Heroin Problem

An increase in heroin overdoses in Delray Beach has motivated the Police Chief to take a new approach to arresting dealers and policing sober houses. The Police Chief said he will be meeting with the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office to talk about investigating insurance fraud at sober homes.

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Florida Certification of Recovery Residences

Why are Recovery Residences in Florida Seeking Certification?
Florida Statute 397.489, passed by the Florida Legislature in 2015, establishes a voluntary certification process for recovery residences.  Although certification is voluntary, a residence must be certified in order to be eligible for referral from treatment providers licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF).

Who Certifies Recovery Residences in Florida?
The Florida Association of Recovery Residences (FARR), based in Boca Raton, is currently approved by DCF to issue certifications to recovery residences. It is FARR’s job to set certification requirements; establish procedures; provide training; develop a code of ethics; and establish certification related fees.

When should a Recovery Residence Apply for Certification?
Applications are now available on the FARR website.   On April 1, 2016, FARR submitted a list of all certified recovery residences to DCF and published that list on its website.  FARR will update this list within 3 days of any changes.

What Are the Required Steps to Becoming a Certified Recovery Residence?

Step 1: Apply, create a profile, and pay the application fee.
Step 2: An inspector will review your application.
Step 3: An inspector will conduct an onsite inspection.
Step 4: Residence receives certification.
Step 5: Owners, managers, and staff participate in education and training.
Step 6: Certified residences must comply with FARR’s grievance policy.  In addition, certified residences are inspected annually and subject to random audit inspections.

What are Other Requirements for Certified Recovery Residences?
A certified recovery residence must be actively managed by a certified recovery residence administrator.  Click here for more Information on Certification of Recovery Residence Administrators.

All owners, directors, and chief financial officers of an applicant are subject to background screening.

Certified Residences must ensure com  pliance with FARR’s Code of Ethics.

Where can I find a list of Certified Recovery Residences?
We expect that FARR will post a list of certified residences on April 1, 2016 or soon after that date.

Other Questions
If you have any other questions about obtaining a voluntary certification, please contact Weiner & Thompson, P.A. , the lawyers to Florida’s recovery provider community.


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Florida Certification of Recovery Residence Administrators

In order to properly license certain facilities in Florida, operations must be supervised by a certified recovery residence administrator (CRRA). Below are the “bullet points” to assist you in organizing your information if you intend to apply for such a certification.

Who is Responsible for Certifying Recovery Residence Administrators?
The Florida Certification Board (FCB), based in Tallahassee, is approved to certify recovery residence administrators.

FCB is tasked with establishing the certification requirements and process, as well as developing and administering a code of ethics and disciplinary process and other ongoing requirements.

When is a Recovery Residence Administrator Required?
A Recovery Residence that applies for voluntary certification by the Florida Association of Recovery Residences (FARR) must show that it is actively managed by a Certified Recovery Residence Administrator before obtaining the FARR certification.

The CRRA is the person responsible for the overall management of the Recovery Residence and supervision of residents and staff. A Certified Recovery Residence Administrator must have competence in 5 areas:

  1. Recovery residence operations and administration
  2. Maintaining the physical residence
  3. Resident screening and admissions
  4. Resident recovery support
  5. Legal, professional and ethical responsibilities.

When Can You Apply for Certification?
Applications are now available on the Florida Certification Board website.

What is Required for Certification?
An administrator must meet certain minimum qualifications in various categories, including:

  • Formal Education
  • Content-Specific Training
  • Related Work Experience
  • Supervised On-the-Job Experience
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Competency Exam
  • Criminal History Standards
  • Code of Ethics Standards
  • Continuing Education

What about People Already Employed by a Recovery Residence?
If you are already working in a position similar to that of a CRRA, you may apply during the first year of the credentialing program (April 1, 2016 through March 31, 2017). During this time period, candidates will not have to take the competency examination or meet the supervised on-the-job experience requirement.

What are the Fees Associated with a CRRA Certification?
The application fee is $100. The annual renewal fee is $100. Additional charges assessed for manual credit card processing and late renewals. Background screening fees are due to the entity performing the background screening.

Other Questions
If you have any other questions about obtaining a certification as a Recovery Residence Administrator, please contact Weiner & Thompson, P.A., the lawyers to Florida’s recovery provider community.


About Michael Weiner


Senate Bill 12

On Friday, April 15, 2016, the Governor signed into law Senate Bill 12 dealing with mental health and substance abuse. The effective date will be July 1, 2016. This was NOT the comprehensive bill we had all been hoping for giving direction to the substance provider community as to sober home licensing and regulation. It will provide for funding from state revenues as to services for treatment-based mental health programs within case management, which is part of the state courts system. It has made changes in the Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993 more commonly referred to as the “Marchman Act.” Some of the changes rationalize the system with the better known “Baker Act.” We will continue to watch for state legislation that affects the substance abuse community and their providers.


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Kickbacks: An Introduction

The substance abuse provider community has remained uneasy after the FBI raid of Good Decisions sober housing occurred in September, 2014. There has been very little additional information concerning the outcome of the case and the actual charges made. It would have been helpful and offered guidance to many of the providers. There are business practices occurring that might unintentionally be incorrectly administered, and we know that good providers do not want a technicality to result in a revocation of a license or more. So, this is a brief outline of state law on kickbacks. Remember, for those of you accepting federal subsidized reimbursement, such as Medicare and Medicaid, there are additional statutes controlling this subject. Also, the state legislation may soon be changing, but here is the brief summary.

Florida has several statutes related to kickbacks. These statutes are intended to prohibit referrals motivated by financial gain. This article is a summary of several Florida anti-kickback statutes, including information on what constitutes a kickback and what is prohibited. The term “kickback” is used below as shorthand for several prohibited types of compensation, including kickbacks, bonuses, commissions, rebates, and bribes.

It is important for health care providers to understand the various anti-kickback laws in the state of Florida. The consequences for failure to comply with the anti-kickback laws can be severe. If you have any additional questions, please contact a knowledgeable Florida attorney like the attorneys at Weiner & Thompson, P.A. [https://soberzonelaw.com/]

Kickbacks
Section 456.054 prohibits kickbacks, which are defined as remuneration or payment as an incentive or inducement to refer patients to a health care provider. Providers cannot offer, pay, solicit, or receive kickbacks. Violations of this section shall be considered patient brokering and shall be punishable as provided in Section 817.505 (described in the paragraph below). While the definition of “health care provider” may or may not cover the type of activity in which you are engaging, it is helpful to know that this is the thrust of the local state legislation.

Patient Brokering
Section 817.505 prohibits patient brokering, defined as to include paying a kickback to induce patient referral, soliciting a kickback in return for a patient referral, and soliciting or receiving a kickback in return for accepting treatment, among other activities. This section does not apply to certain discounts, financial arrangements within a group practice, consultation services, lawful remuneration to insurance agents, certain payments to information services, and a few other types of payments. However, do NOT expect these exceptions to apply to your circumstances. This is mostly to allow doctors to refer within their own practices.
Violation of this section is a felony of the third degree. The party bringing an action under this section may recover reasonable expenses in obtaining injunctive relief, including reasonable attorney’s fees. The provisions of this section are in addition to any other actions provided by law.

Medicaid Kickbacks
Section 409.920 prohibits Medicaid provider fraud. The section prohibits knowingly making certain false statements or false claims and knowingly paying or receiving any kickbacks, among other Medicaid-related actions prohibited. Violation of this section ranges from a felony of the third degree to a felony of the first degree depending on the dollar amount. Violators also face fines. This section also states that the Attorney General shall conduct a statewide program of Medicaid fraud control. This is in addition to Federal statutes which cover this subject.

Licensed Facility Kickbacks
Section 395.0185 makes it unlawful for any person to pay or receive kickbacks or something similar for patients referred to a licensed facility. A violation may result in a fine and recommendation of disciplinary action.

Licensed Nursing Home Kickbacks
Section 400.176 makes it unlawful to pay or receive kickbacks or something similar for residents referred to a licensed nursing home. A violation may result in a fine and a recommendation of disciplinary action.

Pharmacy Kickbacks
Section 465.185 makes it unlawful to pay or receive kickbacks or something similar for patients referred to a pharmacy. A violation may result in a fine and a recommendation of disciplinary action.

Clinical Laboratory Kickbacks
Section 483.245 makes it unlawful to pay or receive kickbacks or something similar for patients referred to a clinical laboratory. This section also prohibits a clinical laboratory from providing personnel to perform any functions in a physician’s office unless the laboratory and physician’s office are wholly owned and operated by the same entity. A violation may result in a fine and a recommendation of disciplinary action. The agency shall deny an application for a license or a license renewal to applicants with a pattern of violations.

Conclusion
While there can be many arguments as to why some of these state statutes do not apply to merely providing residential living, in the case of sober housing, the issues get murkier as the program becomes more comprehensive. Many of you have doctors and medical personnel on staff. Many of you are attempting to make arrangements with laboratories for testing. It is far better to assume that the statute applies than to jump to the contrary conclusion. Some of you are taking private insurance reimbursement, others are taking federal subsidized insurance reimbursement, and some of you are taking only private pay. Rules will vary, and keep in mind that this article does not discuss the application of the Federal statutes.

More guidance is necessary on this subject, and hopefully the state legislature in the next legislative session will give some direction.


About Michael Weiner