By: The Sigmund Team on October 1st, 2018

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When It Comes to Addiction Treatment Regulation, “Good Enough” is Not Good Enough

michael cartwright | american addiction centers | addiction centers | the hill | government | treatment centers | drug laws | google | opioid addiction

Essential reforms are still needed to save lives

We were thrilled to see a longtime client and colleague featured on The Hill recently. We were even more thrilled to read the article.

In it, Michael Cartwright, chairman and co-founder of American Addiction Centers, makes vital points about the future of our industry. And while some of what he covers might be commonsense to those of us in the industry, it’s far from common to those afflicted with addiction, their families, and—critically—the United States Government.
 
Here are our favorite takeaways: 
 
“Bad actors” are ruining it for the rest of us: Well, maybe “ruining” is a bit extreme, but our good reputations are being tarnished by, as Cartwright says, those taking advantage of people who need help via “patient brokering, hijacking business listings on search engines and aggregating calls for other treatment centers.
 
Reforms, please! Most of us in our industry agree that reforms are necessary. Cartwright explains his opinion on the need to push for reforms that would prohibit the few bad apples from exploiting those we seek to help. Here are Cartwright's thoughts:
 
1.     Criminalizing fraudulent advertising: Congress should ask the National Association of Insurance Commissioners or the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws to draft a model law banning deceptive marketing.
2.     Outlawing hijacking of treatment center phone numbers: Make it a crime for anyone to intentionally edit online listings to hijack phone numbers of other facilities.  
3.     Requiring disclosure about who owns and operates call centers: Ensure there are clear guidelines so patients can identify call center ownership.
4.     Banning kickbacks or bribes: Outlaw any fees paid for patient referrals in the industry.
 
Cooperate and collaborate with the Powers That Be: And by “powers that be,” we mean, of course, Google.  Last year, says Cartwright, “Google removed addiction treatment-related search terms from its Google Ads platform, suspending addiction treatment marketing efforts on that important medium.” Since then, they’ve hired a third-party to evaluate online content with more nuance. Things are going in the right direction, but there’s more work to be done.
 
The fight against opioid addiction and other substance abuse has so many more fronts than we’d ever imagined. We are glad there are people like Michael Cartwright—and all our clients and colleagues—out there helping everyone understand more and more each day.