Report Rips Doc Addiction Treatment Mandates as “Coercive”

Addiction Treatment Industry Newswire
10/26/2012 – ATIN – A report recently published by a couple of Harvard academics has criticized the programs that mandate addiction treatment drug rehab alcohol rehab for addicted physicians as coercive and suffering from a lack of clear standards nationwide, while also saying that such programs are also highly successful in getting doctors off drugs and booze and back to work. It is hard to know exactly how many doctors are sent to treatment nationwide but, based on the study by the two Harvard profs, which examined the 130 physicians sent to treatment over the last year in Massachusetts, and extrapolating based on the nationwide population, about 7,500 doctors were mandated to addiction care recently. That this business is highly profitable, and fought after tooth and nail by top private addictions players nationwide, there is absolutely no doubt.

A Half Billion Dollar Market

According to the study, most state boards that oversee addicted doctors’ care and transition back into the workplace require a residential stay of at least 90 days. So what you have is a highly wealthy potential census population faced with the possibility, if they don’t comply with care recommendations, of the complete loss of their careers and livelihoods. There are few such similar situations, if any, in which treatment centers find themselves more in the catbird seat when it comes to a potential client. Lawyers and heavily unionized professional groups like police and firefighters represent similar census opportunities for addictions centers. But there is nothing like the doctors. The average residential stay nationwide is less than 21 days and a lot of that is reimbursed at low in-network rates. Doctors often pay out-of-pocket or are very well insured. If one assumes 7,500 doctors attended residential within the last year with 90 day stays at an average rate of $20K per 30 days, last year physician mandated care represented a very lucrative $450M addiction treatment market niche.

Talbott Grandaddy

The granddaddy of physician-oriented addictions care is unquestionably Atlanta’s Talbott, whose founder Dr Doug Talbott basically invented physician specialty addictions care as we know it today. There is also little question that, over the last nearly 40 years, Talbott has benefited enormously as state boards proliferated and, for example, it has become standard policy that doctors get mandated for very expensive 90-day inpatient care. Talbott is now one of the 

nation’s biggest addictions centers and offers a full range of care to not only doctors, which remains the center’s core business and main claim to fame, but also the general public as well. And picking up on Dr. Talbott’s cue, other centers have eagerly sought specialty professional census flows with, for example, players like BHOPB in South Florida becoming particularly successful in attracting heavily unionized groups with excellent insurance coverages, groups like recovering police and firefighters.