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CONTACT 13: Nevada lawmakers say stop sending checks to recovering addicts

Posted at 6:00 PM, Apr 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-07 23:14:50-04

Putting $90,000 into the hands of a recovering drug addict; that's what insurance companies sometimes do under current Nevada law. 

Under our current state law, some insurance policies provided by employers include treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. But in many situations, the addict will be personally reimbursed after treatment. Average checks run between $25,000 and $90,000.

"Let me just tell your from personal experience, handing somebody who is 65 days in addiction recovery a huge check is not a good thing," said Nevada Sen. Patricia Farley.  "In my personal experience, that ended up getting spent on the Las Vegas Strip. My family member returned to using and has zero funds left and the provider doesn't get paid."

Farley introduced Senate Bill 262. 

If passed it would require insurance companies to make payments for addiction and treatment directly to the provider instead of the newly recovering addict. 

Advocates say that could help prevent a person from relapse or at least limit large sums of money they could use to buy drugs. 

And removing that temptation will help patients focus on long term recovery and potentially save lives.  

According to Solutions Recovery, which has addiction treatment centers in Las Vegas, this change will impact hundreds of recovering addicts at no cost to insurance companies or providers. They provided this statement:

"This is a smart fix to the system that will not cost healthcare insurers nor providers any money but will certainly save lives. This is more than insurance companies getting cute by sending the check to the wrong individual. This is about saving the lives of individuals in early recovery who are in their most vulnerable state. If this law is passed, hundreds can focus on their sobriety and recovery instead of being directly harmed by the actions of insurance companies sending them hundreds and thousands of dollars." 

- David Marlon, Solutions Recovery.