Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal Heralds Passage of Her Legislation Banning the Deceptive Practice of Patient Brokering

August 24, 2018

New York, NY – Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) today announced that her bill to protect those struggling with addiction by prohibiting deceptive practices used to market substance use disorder services, was signed into law.

“Patient brokers prey on the desperation that grips individuals and families struggling with addiction by making referrals to treatment in exchange for a kickback from providers, with little regard for the patient’s specific needs,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.

This law, which takes effect in 60 days, will prohibit cash exchanges or referral fees in exchange for placement in a particular substance abuse program. The legislation will also protect those who make well-intentioned referrals without receiving payment in return.

“The opioid epidemic has sent families scrambling to find treatment for their loved ones. Treatment decisions should be made based on what is in the individuals best interest, not what will generate the most money for the patient broker or treatment facility,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “This law removes the profit motive from treatment referral decisions and protects the thousands in desperate need of treatment and support.”

“It is unconscionable that individuals and families seeking treatment for an addiction would have to navigate past unethical forces trying to profit from their pain. This legislation will help put an end to the exploitation of people suffering from addiction and those trying to help them,” said John Coppola, Executive Director of the New York Association of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Providers.

“With the opioid epidemic continuing to ravage communities across New York, it is more important than ever for the needs and well-being of the individuals we serve to come first, before profit. The community-based substance use disorder providers we represent understand it is a privilege and honor to be a trusted and integral part of a person’s recovery and we take this responsibility seriously. This legislation will prohibit the profiteering through pay-for-referral schemes that betrays the trust of the individuals seeking care at precisely the moment when they need to have full confidence in the treatment and recovery services available to them. The individuals and families of this State should have no doubts that their recovery is our first and only concern and this legislation sends a clear message that profiteering will not be tolerated" said Lauri Cole, Executive Director, NYS Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare.

“The County Mental Health Commissioners strongly support Assemblymember Rosenthal’s efforts to prohibit the practice of substance use disorder patient brokering in New York,” said Kelly A. Hansen, Executive Director of the New York State Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors. “Through her sponsorship and leadership on the issue, this much needed legislation will protect individuals suffering from addiction and their families from being taken advantage of when they are most vulnerable and desperate for treatment.”

“Tragically, vulnerable individuals and families have been preyed upon by unscrupulous patient brokers while they and their families were desperate for addiction treatment and housing recovery supports,” said Stephanie Campbell, Executive Director for Friends of Recovery – New York. “Now, because of the leadership provided by Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly member Rosenthal, Senator Akshar, OASAS Commissioner Arlene Gonzalez Sanchez, and the hundreds of recovery advocates who campaigned on this issue, predators will be deterred from the unethical practice of engaging in illegal patient brokering practices, thereby creating safer environments for individuals and families seeking help.”