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NAATP guide will put ethical practices in writing

August 4, 2017
by Julie Miller, Editor in Chief
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Behavioral health leaders are putting their heads together to create what they expect to be a seminal document on ethical business practices in addiction treatment. It’s part of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers’ (NAATP) new quality initiative.

As the treatment field has evolved in recent years, it has also been infiltrated by unscrupulous profiteers who exploit those with substance use disorders in order to bilk insurance. NAATP’s forthcoming Addiction Treatment Provider Guidebook will serve as an educational tool for communities as much as a standards-setting document for program operators.

“The focus is both best practices and prohibited practices,” says Marvin Ventrell, executive director of NAATP. “While it is true that NAATP guidelines will not have the force of law, we hope they will be incorporated by public policy makers and have a significant deterrent impact on the unethical profiteers.”

For example, the guidebook will address:

  • Patient brokering;

  • Predatory practices online;

  • Insurance and billing abuses;

  • Kickbacks; and

  • Misrepresentation in licensing and accreditation processes.

Adherence to standards

It’s important to delineate actions that are considered unethical so the community at large knows the difference, but it’s also imperative for treatment programs to keep themselves in check at all times.

“The industry needs a reference point, and the guidelines are intended to be that,” Ventrell says.

While there is no specific release date set for the guidebook, Ventrell says it will include instructional how-to information as well as a list of best practice do’s and don’ts. All NAATP members will be expected to adhere to the standards to sustain their membership.

“We will proceed efficiently but carefully,” Ventrell says. “The goal is to help the good provider, and we need to get this right. We are assembling a team of experts from key stakeholder positions to influence the guidelines.”

In its move to maintain the values-based hallmark of addiction treatment providers, NAATP also emphasizes that the vast majority of operators are ethical, and the few that are gaming the system are more likely to be career criminals than treatment-centers-gone-bad.