Senator Bradford Continues Efforts to End the Practice of Patient Brokering with SB 1268
SACRAMENTO – Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) has introduced Senate Bill 1268. This bill, sponsored by the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals, prohibits the practice of “selling” patients to addiction recovery and treatment programs. This practice, commonly known as “patient brokering” or “body brokering” occurs when compensation is given to a person or company for referring patients to a substance abuse treatment program.
“The inability to prohibit patient brokering has led to unethical, corrupt financial relationships between treatment providers and referral agents,” said Senator Steve Bradford. “These immoral practices have led to providers and referral agencies profiting without considering the best interests of some of our most vulnerable members of society.”
Under current California law, there are no prohibitions on patient brokering. The practice of “selling” patients to treatment centers that provide “kickbacks” to referral agents is a longstanding practice, which spans across America. This gap in current law has led to corrupt financial relationships between providers and referring agents, with reports of payments ranging from a couple hundred dollars to upwards of $10,000 per referral. Adding to the severity of this problem, referral agents, or the brokers, are using the money they receive to purposely aid patients in relapsing. The broker then refers the relapsed patient to another facility, obtaining more financial reward. In some cases, this cyclical process of addiction-for-cash continues until a patient’s death.
SB 1268 makes patient brokering a misdemeanor offense, punishable by a fine, for a person or recovery and treatment program to give or receive remuneration or anything of value for the referral of an individual seeking treatment.
"Patient brokering is a despicable practice that must be stopped,” said Pete Nielsen, CEO of California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP). “Selling patients, encouraging people to relapse for profit, and admitting people to expensive treatment that may not match a client's clinical needs milks our treatment system out of millions of dollars and threatens to erode the public's trust and confidence in recovery.”
Senator Bradford represents the Los Angeles County communities of Carson, Compton, Gardena, Harbor City, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, Lennox, San Pedro, Torrance, Watts, Willowbrook, and Wilmington.