Legal Assistance

Alternative Sentencing with StepHouse

StepHouse Recovery has a probation-recognized treatment program for rehab or drug treatment care tailor-made for those with legal problems as a result of their drug addiction, and who qualify as minimum risk offenders.

StepHouse Recovery experts are eager to act as an advocate on a client’s behalf — even making court appearances to explain the program and the need for recovery.

If there are pending criminal charges, be proactive! Enter the treatment setting and seek professional assistance before the arraignment hearing. If the arrest is related to chemical abuse or dependency, judges will see the positive action taken to address the problem.

We negotiate with district attorneys and/or judges to appeal for a satisfactory resolution of the case. The court will frequently allow day-for-day credit through participation in treatment at StepHouse Recovery in lieu of being held in custody.

What is Alternative Sentencing?

We can help get clients struggling with addiction and legal problems out of handcuffs and jail and into rehab.

We have managed many sentencing cases from across the nation, successfully placing clients in our drug and alcohol recovery programs.

Our facilities offer a high standard of care and protocol, ensuring the best possible care. Courts from across the country rely on StepHouse Recovery Center’s Alternative Sentencing Programs as a sentencing option. Our commitment to clients extends well beyond the courtroom.

We work directly with individuals, families and their attorneys, as well as various departments within the legal system to make sure all parties are in compliance with all court orders and directives. Without the weight of a harsh sentence, the defendant can focus on recovery and build a foundation for progress.

By retaining the services of StepHouse Recovery Center, the attorney can focus legal aspects of the case. This assures the court that each client is under supervision and receiving the most appropriate care.

Benefits of Alternative Sentencing

We are a step above jail. We ensure clients comply and supervise them constantly.

The Criminal Justice system directs nonviolent drug cases out of the system to give attention to more serious crimes.

Choosing a rehabilitation program in place of incarceration can help save taxpayers money by helping drug addiction offenders out of the prison system and stay clean and sober.

Individuals who enroll in rehabilitation programs get to the root cause of their drug-use offense instead of worsening the problem by sending nonviolent cases to jail.

Alternative sentencing lets offenders remain in the community, where they can continue to work, take care of their loved ones and make a contribution to society.

Outpatient drug rehab programs may benefit the offender’s family by allowing children to continue having regular contact with their parents.

Legal Aid Resources

Finding a free or low-cost lawyer is difficult because there are a lot of people who need lawyers but cannot afford them. Here are the main groups that may be able to help you:

Court-based self-help services
Legal aid agencies and other non-profit groups
Government agencies
Lawyer-referral services and bar associations
Law schools
Dispute resolution programs
Prepaid legal services plan

Patient Brokering and Preventative Measures

 Patient brokering is a dishonorable and illegal practice where individuals or “brokers” trade clients to a treatment program in exchange for persuasive incentives, such as money, perks, or other forms of compensation. Patient brokering has been known to take many forms. In some cases, a third party broker will reach out to a treatment program regarding a prospective client and solicit a referral bonus or “kickback” in exchange for the client’s information. Patient brokering has also transpired in the form of treatment programs offering patients a waiver or discount of deductibles, co-insurance, and co-payments or offering to pay for a patients’ travel to the facility. Patient brokers may even infiltrate treatment programs and provide drugs or cash (for the purchase of drugs) to other clients in the program in order to trigger a relapse that starts the treatment cycle over again.

The problem began to surface in 2010, when the ACA (Affordable Care Act), or Obamacare, passed and patient brokering, or “body brokering,” is quickly becoming a growing stain on the addiction treatment industry. While most substance and behavioral addiction treatment providers see it as a responsibility and a privilege to take part in someone’s recovery, there is, unfortunately, a sector of treatment providers whose quest for profit outweighs trust of people and families in crisis. After the ACA 2014 passed this sector of treatment providers (as well as third party agents) swiftly discovered the “gold rush” of monetary opportunity awaiting them by engaging in patient brokering and trafficking

What do Brokers Look For?

The affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 mandates the inclusion of mental healthcare coverage and addiction treatment in insurance plans. Unfortunately, ever since the ACA came in to play, a number of unethical treatment centers have been willing to compensate patient brokers for referrals or “relapse triggers” because a single patient with good insurance can be worth tens of thousands of dollars in insurance claims. Patient brokers are therefore mainly looking for those individual who have insurance that covers behavioral health disorder treatments

Patient brokers often appear to want to get their targets the help they need and today there are thousands of third-party websites masquerading as a behavioral rehabilitation center. This means they are “fronting” as a rehab center while in reality they do not offer any service themselves, instead they will refer an approaching client to a corrupt treatment center I exchange for money or other goods. These practices can be extremely harmful to individuals who get caught as pawns in the scheme.

Keep in mind, the goal of most brokers is to secure patients for programs that last 30-days or less for maximized turnover. They do their best to enable a patient’s relapse in order to move the patient to another rehab center and secure another trip through the broker’s money-making scheme.

Treating people like cattle is not only dangerously unhealthy for the addict, but also shatters the integrity of the drug treatment industry. Patient brokering harms those who need help most and undermines efforts toward true recovery.

Addressing the Issue

To address this issue, President Trump signed into law the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, also known as H.R. 6. Section 8122 of the Act entitled “Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act of 2018, will prohibit:

  • Solicit or receive anything of value in return for referring a patient to a recovery home, clinical treatment facility or laboratory,
  • Pay or offer anything of value to induce a referral of an individual to a recovery home, clinical treatment facility, or laboratory, or
  • Pay or offer anything of value in exchange for an individual using the services of that recovery home, clinical treatment facility, or laboratory.

Additionally, Governor Jerry Brown signed four new addiction treatment bills on September 26th that further ban patient brokering, strengthen licensure requirements, and increase penalties against addiction treatment facilities in the state of California. Namely, (1) the SB-1228, prohibiting patient brokering. (2) The SB-992, which adds sober living home disclosure requirements. (3) The SB 823, which strengthens licensure standards. And (4) AB 3162, which increases penalties of addiction treatment facilities.

Learn more about behavioral health and addiction treatment law at:

1) https://www.nelsonhardiman.com/?s=Health+care+client&x=0&y=0

2) https://www.nelsonhardiman.com/client-alert-support-for-patients-and-communities-act/?print=pdf

3) https://www.nelsonhardiman.com/client-alert-california-enacts-four-new-addiction-treatment-laws-banning-patient-brokering-strengthening-licensure-requirements-and-increasing-penalties/?print=pdf

Industry Responsibility

Not only is there a need for the state to hold treatment centers responsible for patient brokering, but the rehab industry must also strive to re-establish trust in clients and the community. This should be done by legitimate facilities holding to a strong model of ethical behavior.

If a center offers bonuses or commissions to a client that signing-up for treatment or a third party that for referring a client anyone signing up, participating in what amounts to a ‘Ponzi scheme,’ they may be involved in patient brokering.

Although California has been taking steps toward regulating body brokering, progress is slow. As so, it is imperative that centers establish guidelines and procedures to protect their patients. While, the wrongful patterns of the past have tarnished the public’s faith, it is important to emphasize that not all treatment centers are guilty of these practices, and there exist many who do focus on patient health.

As these unscrupulous racketeers have cast a shadow on the state of our industry, StepHouse Recovery see it as our duty to educate the public and help treatment seekers navigate the industry. We therefore advice you to keep these questions in mind when searching for a rehab center for yourself or a loved one:

  • What is the length of their program? (Legitimate programs often come in many different lengths could this therefor be confusing and maybe scare off potential clients instead of help them make a decision)
  • What happens to the patient after the program ends?
  • How many staff are available at a time?
  • How do they treat and prevent relapses?
  • The program should be long-term with a comprehensive six-month to a year transitional sober living component (same as above).

While researching the treatment center, ask all these questions and more, but be wary of third parties.

How Can You Avoid Patient Brokering?

First of all, are a treatment center offering a free trip to rehab? Will they give you money to go? Are they selling a rehab ‘scholarship’ or ‘vacation’? If so, these are all red flags indicating potential patient brokering. Rehab is about helping those with addiction and you should therefore examine centers that advertise extravagant amenities with a critical eye.

Secondly be wary of settings where patient brokers tend to find targets. Brokers frequently troll support meetings, locations where drug use is commonly known to take place as well as a detox, sober living and rehab facilities.

Lastly, be aware that a legitimate and reputable center will make sure the individual is a good fit for their particular program. This means, a comprehensive assessment and initial screening should be conducted using ASAM criteria (American Society of Addiction Medicine) before a client is admitted to a program. Also, depending on the type of program, the essential (necessary) standard of addiction treatment should be offered such as withdrawal management or detox services, treatment plans specifically tailored to each individual client’s needs, treatment transitions and multiple levels of care, and comprehensive aftercare.

Our Comprehensive Behavioral Health Initiative

Here at StepHouse Recovery we have made extensive efforts to create a more comprehensive behavioral health initiative in our community. This include establishing new strict guidelines and procedures to protect our patients, identifying and addressing risks, realigning existing policies and practices, sharing information and resources, and establishing relationships and mutual goals with partners and affiliates.

We recognize that one institution or behavioral health care center cannot combat the issues of our industry – weather it be access to care, quality of care, or preventing illegal and unethical practices –  alone, we therefore emphasize the importance of building partnerships with supporters and other establishments embedded in the behavioral health care setting.

Each addiction treatment agency has a different service delivery model. Services can in some cases be limited by insurance and reimbursement, resources, or may not meet the exact requirements and focuses needed for a particular clients care. Connecting with others thus allows for a wider net of resources, more access, and greater opportunities.

We are therefore working continuously towards a comprehensive network (be it for legal aid, family reassurance, comparable healthcare centers, or services not provided by our program) to assure that each customer/client leaves our care or services knowing how to take the next step.  Because we believe there are strengths in working together to strategically advocate for change and a better system of behavioral health care.

The goal of creating a coalition of care providers, advocates, and other stakeholders is to:

  • Increase access to quality behavioral health services for anyone seeking treatment or information
  • Promote substance and behavioral addiction recovery through a broader spectrum of behavioral health services.
  • Build a safe and sustainable behavioral health capacity for all parties involved.
  • Achieve higher satisfaction with services offered among all key stakeholders
  • Promote systematic changes in behavioral health service delivery.
  • Providing legislative advocacy.
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