Municipalities throughout the nation continue to use zoning to exclude community residences from residential districts despite the presence of numerous court decisions that recognize community residences for people with disabilities as a residential use. Over the past year multiple Florida cities have imposed tougher regulations on community residences for people with disabilities. These communities include group homes, sober living homes, recovery communities, and assisted living facilities that emulate a biological family. In creating these regulations, cities cite to the protection of individuals from the actions of unscrupulous operators and also the need to avoid a concentration of community residences in one area that have shown to undermine the goals of the residents. Thus, if you are an operator in one of these cities, you may be subject to heightened scrutiny and additional documentation requirements ranging from simple registration to submitting an application for a conditional use permit requiring an appearance before a planning and zoning board.
Attorneys from the Florida Healthcare Law Firm will hold a live call to present an urgently needed update regarding FARR certification.
The recent petition for Declaratory Statement filed with the Department of Children and Families on behalf of Amethyst Recovery Center focuses on one thing: whether the FARR certification requirements for Recovery Residences also apply to facilities licensed by DCF to provide Day and Night treatment with community housing and to Res-5 housing. A review of FARR recovery residence certification shows that there is significant conflict with DCF requirements for licensure of treatment facilities that have a housing component. There are no referrals to and from the community housing component of Day and Night or for Res 5: patients are simply housed under the DCF licensed component while in treatment. Referrals from Recovery Residences to addiction treatment facilities are generally made for individuals who are seeking treatment, not for housing.
Day and Night Treatment Providers with community housing may make referrals for individuals who have completed inpatient treatment, requiring them to step down to an outpatient provider. Many times, clients desire to live in a recovery residence to maintain their sobriety. In that case, it would be appropriate for the Day and Night Treatment Provider to refer to a FARR-certified recovery residence.
When asked about why Amethyst filed for clarification, Pamela Springer, Chief Operating Officer with Amethyst Recovery Center stated, “Amethyst supports FARR’s mission and the State of Florida’s requirement for recovery residence certification. However, thus far, DCF has indicated to Amethyst Recovery Center that it does not require FARR certification for licensed community housing. FARR has stated to us and other providers that Day and Night treatment with community housing must obtain FARR certification or they will be in violation of the law. This is the reason we sought clarification from DCF”.
If history teaches anything, it’s to learn from it. The addiction treatment industry can’t afford to sit idly by and watch. Uniform application of the law is essential to avoid unfair, unreasonable and unintended results. Step up; show up. Register for FREE: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4977722626987986435 and stand up for your rights under Florida law.
State licensed addiction treatment facilities with licenses that include community housing are confused about whether they have to also be certified by the Florida Association of Recovery Residences (FARR) by July 1, 2018. Attorney Karina Gonzalez has filed a petition with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to clarify the issue. A fairly recent state law (397.4873, Fla. Stat.) requires addiction treatment service providers in Florida to refer clients only to recovery residences certified by FARR.
FARR is a private, non-governmental entity approved by DCF to develop and administer a voluntary certification program for recovery residences. FARR has taken the position that it has also been approved to develop and administer a voluntary certification program for DCF-licensed community housing providers. “We think,” attorney Gonzalez said, “they’ve got it wrong. It makes no sense to stack the FARR certification requirement on top of existing state licensure.”
There are a rash of blogs, bulletins, memos, e-mails relaying that Florida DCF licensed Day/Night with Community Housing licensees (D/N with Community Housing) must be certified by FARR by July 1, 2018 in order to refer or accept referrals and not be sanctioned. The referral prohibitions in 397.4873 (2), Fla. Stat. show they apply after July 1, 2018 when a licensed service provider is referring to that provider’s wholly owned subsidiary. But there is no requirement for certification when the licensee, the entity licensed by DCF to provide services, is not a wholly owned subsidiary.
As of June 12th, Florida Healthcare Law Firm has served a Petition for Declaratory Statement on the Agency by a Day/Night with Community Housing licensee to seek clarification on whether Voluntary Certification of Recovery Residences administered by FARR under 397.487 Fla. Stat. applies to a licensed D/N with Community Housing program when the community housing is owned by the same service provider.Other D/N with Community Housing and Res 5 providers have a narrow window of opportunity to intervene in the action and work alongside FHLF to get clarification from DCF and potentially avoid FARR sanctions.
There has been a growing trend in the substance abuse rehabilitation industry to provide services through a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. Unfortunately, there is also a growing trend relating to IRS audits of non-profits. An audit by the IRS can yield many negative outcomes, including the revocation of a treatment center’s tax exempt status and fines imposed on the organization and/or its Directors when the non-profit fails to operate within the rules applicable to 501(c)3 non-profit organizations.
A non-profit may be able to fly under the IRS’s radar for a few years, but as the years pass, the chances that non-profit non-compliance will be caught by the IRS grows exponentially. To protect your non-profit, please follow some of these basic rules:
Addiction treatment providers continue to react to an assault by payers to run them “out of town.” The first round of attacks (in the Fall of 2014) focused on the practice of copay and deductible write offs. The phrase cooked up by lawyers for Cigna, “fee forgiveness,” wound its way into the courts system in Texas in a case (Cigna v. Humble Surgical Hospital, Civ. Action No. 4:13-CV-3291, U.S. Dist. Ct., S.D. Tex., Houston Division) against a surgery center, where Cigna argued that the practice of a physician owned hospital in waiving “patient responsibility” relieved the insurer from paying ANYTHING for services needed by patients and provided to them. Though the case did not involve addiction treatment providers, it gave addiction treatment lawyers a look into what was going to come. The same argument made in the Texas case was the initial attack by Cigna in a broad attack of the addiction treatment industry, especially in Florida.
As addiction treatment providers fielded Cigna’s “fee forgiveness” attack in the context of “audits,” providers held firm to the belief that justice would prevail and that they would soon restore a growing need for cash flow. “If we just show them that we’re doing the right thing,” providers thought, “surely they will loosen up the purse strings.” After all, this was a patient population in terrific need of help, with certain [untested] protection by federal law (the Mental Health Parity Act).
Health law is the federal, state, and local law, rules, regulations and other jurisprudence among providers, payers and vendors to the healthcare industry and its patient and delivery of health care services; all with an emphasis on operations, regulatory and transactional legal issues.