Addiction professionals are governed by a code of conduct established by the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP). The mission of the organization is to “provide leadership, advocacy, training, and member support services to ensure the availability and highest quality of addiction treatment.”
In response to recent concerns about the industry, the NAATP is revamping its code of ethics to hold members more accountable for ethical abuses in 2018. This article discusses the controversy and the NAATP response.
What will this mean for addiction professionals who are members of NAATP? Why is NAATP committed to this initiative for the health and safety of patients as well as the wellbeing of the addiction treatment industry?
In mid-December last year, Congress held a hearing on a phenomenon called “patient brokering” and addiction treatment fraud. Patient brokering is the unethical practice of sending a patient to a treatment facility in exchange for a kickback. It can also occur when a treatment facility “recruits” patients from another drug rehab program and receives a fee in return. This is an unethical and potentially illegal practice tied in many cases to insurance fraud. This type of fraud bills insurers for tests or treatment a patient did not receive.
These criminal activities hurt the rehabilitation center, damage the reputation of the industry as a whole, and exploit sick people. In response, NAATP has revised their code of ethics to restrict:
These activities are illegal and exploitative; they give an unfair advantage to certain facilities while blackening the eyes of an industry that is working diligently to stop the disease of addiction.
Any drug rehab facility participating in any of these behaviors will have their membership in the NAATP revoked. NAATP is committed to improving treatment standards to the “best levels of care seen in our country.”
In early December last year, NAATP announced a new Quality Initiative designed to hold providers to even higher standards. These standards were designed to:
The Quality Initiative, along with the revised Code of Ethics, has raised the bar on industry standards for addiction professionals. Once these standards are in place, any NAATP certified member will be required to follow them to the letter.
Mental health and substance abuse still come with a great deal of stigma attached to public perception. Raising the standards for the entire industry is a crucial move toward increasing the legitimacy of the treatment standards providers maintain. This could not come at a better time; with the opioid addiction at crisis levels, it is imperative that treatment facilities and the providers working within their walls focus exclusively on what is important – the patients and families they are treating.
Even one unethical provider is too many in an industry striving to stem the tide of addiction in this country. Having a respected trade organization such as the NAATP work to increase standards and curb industry abuse is both welcome and necessary.
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