What We Are Reading This Week

It’s been a very busy news week here at SoberZoneLaw News. Lots happening.


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Now, onto the news….



Rosecrance, Opponents Denounce ‘Idiotic’ Signs Against Recovery Center


Pink signs posted in a Lakeview park have people on both sides of a proposed recovery residence recoiling from their “idiotic” declarations.


The signs warn that if Rockford-based Rosecrance gets its way, drug addicts and people with criminal records or mental disorders could be sitting in the park soon.


“Those signs could just as easily say, ‘A veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan and is in recovery from substance abuse could be sitting here’ or ‘A survivor of breast cancer and a mother of two,’ They’re a misrepresentation of the whole individual.”


Residences on the top three floors of 3701 N. Ashland Ave. would house 20 to 30 young adults for one month to 1½ years after in-patient treatment at another facility. The first floor — which does not require a zoning change — would be an outpatient treatment center.


While feelings remain mixed over the proposed Rosecrance residence and outpatient center, both Rosecrance and the opposing Lakeview Action Committee slammed the signs.


“We’re horribly disappointed and dismayed at the content. We’re absolutely encouraging people to take them down and dispose of them,” committee member Bridget Lohrius told DNAinfo.


The committee also denounced the signs on its Facebook page last week.


“These signs were not created, posted or endorsed by Lakeview Action Committee. And these signs were, in our opinion, idiotic and beyond ignorant,” organizers wrote.



Texas Strives To Lure Mental Health Providers To Rural Counties


How do you persuade students to become psychiatrists, social workers and psychologists, and then be willing to work in rural areas?


Texas Republican state Sen. Charles Schwertner is trying cash. He sponsored a law that, starting in 2016, will help around 100 medical health professionals repay loans if they go to work in underserved areas. Schwertner says the investment will pay off.


“Where we don’t have those services for mental health patients, they wind up cycling back through our jails and our emergency rooms,” he says.


For medical student Duong, it’s also important to address the stigma of seeking and treating mental health care.


“Even I have some family members who aren’t supportive of me going into psychiatry,” she says. “There are people out there who don’t think mental illness should be considered a diagnosis.”




Hillary Clinton Proposes $10 Billion Plan to Combat Drug Epidemic


Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday released plans for a $10 billion initiative to combat the escalating drug epidemic that she says has swept through rural America and has emerged as a regular concern among voters she has met in the early nominating states.


“In state after state, this issue came up again and again — from so many people, from all walks of life, in small towns and big cities,” Mrs. Clinton wrote in an op-ed in The New Hampshire Union Leader.


After serving four years as secretary of state, she seemed struck by how heroin epidemic had affected families, as voters told her about their ordeals during an early campaign stop in New Hampshire. “We’re not just ‘discovering’ the problem,” she wrote in the op-ed. “But we should be saying enough is enough.”




Illinois House Leaders Override Governor’s Veto On Heroin Addiction Bill


Illinois lawmakers set aside their bitter partisan bickering Wednesday to override Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s partial veto of bill addressing the state’s heroin crisis.


Illinois has one of the highest rates of heroin overdose deaths in the country, and the Chicago area has led the nation in the number of emergency room visits related to heroin. And as we’ve recently reported, the heroin crisis has been growing worse as state funding for treatment programs has been cut.


The comprehensive Heroin Crisis Act would, among other things, allow the state’s Medicaid program to fully cover heroin addiction treatment.


The Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy estimates about 80% of those needing treatment for heroin or other opioid addictions don’t have health insurance to cover the cost of treatment. By extending Medicaid coverage to opioid addiction treatment, the federal government would have picked up much of the cost in Illinois.


Supporters call the veto shortsighted, arguing that every dollar spent on treatment saves 12 dollars in state prison, court and emergency room costs.


“In our zeal to save money, we must not forget about human life,” said State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), the chief sponsor of the Heroin Crisis Act.


Lang urged his fellow legislators Wednesday to override the governor’s veto. “Illinois is ground zero for heroin crisis in America. We’ve had more heroin deaths than any state in the nation.”


“Watching another kid left and right dying, overdosing over heroin, sickens me,” says Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of suburban Westchester. “It brings tears to many of our eyes and we have to do everything within our power to stop this and reverse this before it gets even more pervasive.”


“Finally people will get the treatment that they so desperately need,” says Kathie Kane-Willis, director of the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy. “This legislation can be a model for the nation and I hope it will be.”




School drug counselors charged in $46 million fraud scheme


Eight former employees of a California alcohol and drug treatment program were indicted on 40 counts of health care fraud and aggravated identity theft after allegedly submitting more than $50 million in fraudulent bills to the state, the U.S. Department of Justice announced on Wednesday.


The defendants are accused in a decade-long health care fraud scheme that took in more than $46 million from California’s Drug Medi-Cal program by falsely claiming that their employer, Atlantic Recovery Services, provided substance abuse counseling for middle and high school students, the DOJ said. The students often either didn’t need the services they were given, or the services weren’t provided at all.


Some were students who had tried drugs or alcohol, but didn’t have substance abuse problems. Others were young addicts in need of help.


Neither group necessarily fared well under counseling programs run by a Long Beach company for Los Angeles County schools, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. Dabblers were dubbed abusers, and hard-core users didn’t always get the care they needed.


“Employees engaged in a long-running fraud scheme to steal tens of millions of dollars from a program with limited resources that was designed to help underprivileged youth in recovery,” U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker said. “The defendants and (the company) branded many innocent young people as substance abusers and addicts in order to boost enrollment numbers and billings.”


The now-defunct Atlantic Health Services in Long Beach billed for $50 million in fraudulent Medi-Cal reimbursements for treatment that either wasn’t provided to poor middle and high school students, was deficient or was given to students who didn’t have drug or alcohol problems, prosecutors said.


Audits failed to detect the crimes because paperwork was falsified, Assistant United States Attorney Cathy Ostiller said. The California Department of Justice received complaints in 2009, but the health care fraud continued until 2013.


“For counselors and supervisors to risk stigmatizing students as substance abusers, as alleged in this case, just to enrich themselves at taxpayer expense is outrageous,” Special Agent in Charge Christian Schrank for the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement. “This decade-long conspiracy to defraud Medi-Cal while disregarding the true health care needs of children will not be tolerated.”

About Jeffrey Lynne

Jeffrey C. Lynne is a South Florida native, representing individuals and business entities relating to licensing, accreditation, regulatory compliance, business structure, marketing, real estate, zoning and litigation pertaining to substance abuse treatment facilities and sober living residences. Mr. Lynne has been recognized across the region as a leader in progressive public dialogue about the role that substance abuse treatment has within our communities and the fundamental need and right to provide safe and affordable housing for those who are both in treatment for addiction and alcoholism as well as those who are established in their recovery.