California Society of Addiction Medicine Applauds Rehab Fraud Crackdown, Warns of Risks to Patients

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The California Society of Addiction Medicine supports the investigation into fraud in the Drug Medi-Cal program but warns that the state must protect legitimate addiction patients in treatment centers where funding is cut off.

CSAM President Jeffery Wilkins, MD

Every dollar intended for treatment that is stolen or wasted hurts those individuals desperately in need of treatment. But, it is critical that the state ensures there is no interruption of treatment for legitimate patients with the disease of addiction.

The California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM) supports the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) investigation into alleged fraud in the Drug Medi-Cal program, but urges that funding cut-offs to treatment centers must not be allowed to jeopardize the health and safety of addiction treatment patients.

The Executive Council of CSAM, California’s professional society of physicians who specialize in treating the disease of addiction, issued a statement saying: “Every dollar intended for treatment that is stolen or wasted hurts those individuals desperately in need of treatment. However, it is critical that the Department of Health Care Services ensures that there is no interruption of treatment for legitimate patients with the disease of addiction.”

The California Department of Health Care Services, which recently took over regulation of Drug Medi-Cal funding from the now defunct Department of Alcohol and Drug Services, has cut off funding for 29 firms operating 83 clinics following a media investigation alleging fraud, according to California Healthline in an Aug. 2 report. CSAM applauds these efforts to insure that limited addiction treatment Medi-Cal funding is used effectively.

At the same time, “patients with the disease of addiction at these facilities are trapped in the middle. We request that DHCS arrange for these individuals to be transferred as quickly as possible to DHCS-approved programs,” said Jeffery Wilkins, MD, CSAM President and the Lincy/Heyward-Moynihan Chair in Addiction Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

CSAM has long urged that addiction treatment centers should be regulated like other healthcare facilities that treat acute and chronic diseases, and that physicians should have integral roles in treatment center operations. CSAM also has advocated for increasing training and certification requirements for treatment counselors and providers to help professionalize the practice of addiction treatment, which for decades in California has operated without the high standards of mainstream medical practice.

About CSAM
The California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM) is a professional society representing close to 400 physicians dedicated to increasing access and improving the quality of addiction treatment, educating physicians and the public, supporting research and prevention, and promoting the appropriate role of physicians in the care of patients with addictions. CSAM is a State Chapter of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).

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