A bill that would crack down on the shady business practices in the drug-treatment industry can move forward for a vote after its fate was up in the air for days.
The bill, which would target unethical drug-treatment marketing practices, was placed on the state Senate calendar for Thursday, which is necessary for the bill to be approved. It’s House counterpart was unanimously approved last week.
The fate of the bill was unclear earlier today, as its supporters awaited the decision of Senate Rules Chair Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, who would place the bill on the calendar or ignore it, allowing it to die when Florida Legislative session ends Friday.
Before reading the bill number in a meeting to announce additions to the calendar, Benacquisto said, “I see prayers in the audience.”
Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Chief Assistant State Attorney Al Johnson, Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay and Palm Beach County Legislative Affairs Director Rebecca De La Rosa were among those in the Capitol on Wednesday lobbying for the bill.
“It’s one of these sausage-being-made, end-of-session issues that we are hopeful the legislature will do the right thing. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say this is a life-or-death issue,” Aronberg said in the morning. As a former state senator, Aronberg had access to the Senate floor to talk to lawmakers.
Just before the meeting, Benacquisto acknowledged the importance of the bill in a statement.
“I understand the depth of the problem that is being experienced in Palm Beach County and the way these facilities are using the folks who are dealing with addiction to profit,” Benacquisto said. “Addressing that issue through legislation is important, it is warranted and I’m hopeful that we see a very positive result and the bad actors can be removed from the environment where folks who are dealing with true and real issues can get the help they deserve.”
The bill would tackle practices such as patient brokering by forcing sober home telemarketers to register with the state. It would also clarify laws that make kickbacks illegal and require background screenings for owners, directors and clinical supervisors of treatment centers.