3 Reasons Why Florida Addiction Recovery Center CEO Is Wary Of $77 Billion CVS-Aetna Merger

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Brittany Ringersen, CEO of Lighthouse Recovery Institute in Boynton Beach, Florida, says recent addiction industry studies have found that physical healthcare providers are receiving higher insurance company reimbursements that mental health providers despite rendering the same services. The possible merger between CVS Health and insurance company Aetna would be one more way of limiting treatment choices for those in recovery and squeezing out specialized competition, she says.

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Are these huge corporations really genuine and on the side of advocating for their customers for more efficient healthcare models and quality of life, or simply seeking ways to cut costs even more to increase their bottom line?

Under the guise of such platitudes as offering a “human touch” to drug store transactions, CVS Health announced in a Dec. 3, 2017 press release that it plans to purchase health insurance company Aetna for $77 billion. The driving force behind this deal -- which still requires merger approval from antitrust regulators -- is supposedly “high-quality care in lower cost, local settings.” Other industry experts say that it’s a shot across Amazon’s bow to let the online retail giant know that its possible foray into pharmaceuticals won’t unfurl without a fight.

Regardless of which is the true intention, Lighthouse Recovery Institute CEO Britany Ringersen says word of the possible merger comes at a time when those in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction need more treatment choices – not less. Ringersen, whose Florida-based recovery center marked four years of operation in October 2017, was previously interviewed on NBC’s “Nightly News” and the “Today” show regarding the opioid epidemic that has left 300,000 Americans dead since 2000. She also clawed her way back from the depths of addiction nearly a decade ago and wants nothing but the best for those following in those footsteps.

“Are these huge corporations really genuine and on the side of advocating for their customers for more efficient healthcare models and quality of life, or simply seeking ways to cut costs even more to increase their bottom line,” Ringersen asked of CVS and Aetna, where the former is the largest drug store chain in the U.S. and the latter boasts 22 million members.

Below are three reasons why Ringersen says the CVS-Aetna deal doesn’t bode well for those in recovery and other consumers who think a level playing field is only fair when it comes to finding treatment options.

  • The National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) released the results of a recent independent study that found physical healthcare providers have been receiving higher reimbursements from insurers compared to addiction and mental behavioral health providers for the same services. According to Ringersen, these findings back up claims that there have possibly been violations of 2008’s Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. According to the NAATP analysis, which was released on Nov. 30, 2017, there has never been a more crucial time to ensure adherence to metal health laws given the skyrocketing rates of fatal opioid overdoses across the country.
  • The fact that there seems to be hidden forces at play when it comes to who gets paid -- and the amount they receive -- is triggering a wave of treatment centers closing. According to Ringersen, the disparity is the “likely source of why hundreds of programs who treat patients with substance use disorder have been unable to afford operation costs and closed their doors over the last 18 months.”
  • If the 22 million Aetna customers are now nudged toward local CVS pharmacy for prescription medication rather than a hospital visit, that’s a very direct route and squeezes out competition. “With less monitoring, less competition and less potential choices for the subscribers on these new policies, it should bring at least a pause in terms of the overall benefits of the current state of managed health care system,” Ringersen said.

For more information about Ringersen and Lighthouse Recovery Institute, please visit lighthouserecoveryinstitute.com.

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Lighthouse Recovery Institute is an addiction treatment center staffed by medical professionals and licensed practitioners. Lighthouse Recovery Institute, whose motto is “The Leaders in Comprehensive Addiction Treatment,” has been certified by the Florida Department of Children and Families as well as the Florida Association of Recovery Residences among other institutions.

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