As the result of an enduring absence of regulatory and law enforcement, financially incestuous relationships have developed between some Intensive Outpatient Providers (IOP) and FARR Certified Recovery Residences. In short, these relationships center on the practice of the IOP provider offering financial incentives to persons in recovery and the recovery residence operator, binding the residents to the IOP, where resident participation is then capitalized on to bill healthcare insurers for excessive and unnecessary services such as urinalyses. It seems as if every calendar quarter, a new scam of one kind or another emerges from the midst of this group of unethical opportunists, offering the promise of untold riches. This, and other injurious practices, fall squarely in the wheelhouse of law enforcement. These practices are condemned by the Florida Association of Recovery Residences (FARR, INC) and members of its subsidiary membership organization, the Florida Alliance of Recovery Residences, LLC (FARR, LLC). Our affiliates and members applaud the intervention of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in cracking down on these abuses of the persons in recovery and payers defrauded into making unnecessary payment for unneeded services. While we have no authority to prevent further exploitation of consumers by IOPs, FARR is empowered to intervene as it regards certified recovery residence compliance with NARR Quality Standards, Code of Ethics and other criteria established by F.S. 397.487.
In their collective wisdom, the 2015 Florida Legislature passed and Governor Scott signed legislation now designated as Florida Statute 397.487, which establishes a voluntary recovery residence certification program. Earlier this month, December 1, 2015, the Florida Department of Children and Families (the Department) designated FARR, INC. as the statewide credentialing agency for voluntary certification of recovery residences. In response, FARR, INC. divested itself of all membership services by transferring this opportunity to FARR, LLC, an independent 501(c)6 membership organization (applied for). FARR, Inc., the credentialing entity, is, at the time of this publication, less than 30 days into the implementation of the legislative initiative (HB21) that resulted in F.S. 397.487 and 397.4871. Management has committed to the Department that it will complete all deliverables set forth under contract on or before March 31, 2016.
We are now preparing the infrastructure to implement voluntary certification of recovery residences to the 2015 NARR Quality Standards, Code of Ethics and other criteria as specified by F.S. 397.487. Additional staff have been recruited, training curricula developed, certification and compliance protocols have been approved and an update to the FARR Certification Platform, including online application, will be completed by January 31, 2015. In late February 2016, FARR will host a three day training seminar educating FARR Field Assessors in the use of the certification software and the protocols for both certification and compliance audits. We ask the SUT and Recovery Support community to be patient while we attend to completion of this infrastructure, train staff and otherwise prepare to effectively implement the requirements of a credentialing entity. The Florida Certification Board (FCB) is diligently preparing to carry forward credentialing of Certified Recovery Residence Administrators (CRRA) as mandated by F.S. 397.4871. Together, our two organizations will work collaboratively to carry forward the intent of this legislation.
During the interim leading up to the formal launch on April 1, 2016, and as a direct result of grievances filed by concerned stakeholders who possess first-person knowledge regarding events of non-compliance, FARR Compliance staff will commence provider audits in January 2016. Results of those assessments may lead to staff recommendations for certification suspension or revocation to the FARR Compliance Committee. The integrity of FARR Certification is paramount. The FARR Board of Directors wishes to focus our efforts on research, programming and provider education that enhances recovery support throughout Florida. However, we must be ever mindful to protect consumers from the opportunists who prey on them. We will deny every such opportunist from utilizing the FARR brand to further abuse this vulnerable population.
This year has been fraught with both challenges and exciting developments. We could not have made the progress we have without the diligent support of all of our affiliates. FARR would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has assisted us along the way. As 2016 approaches, we are looking forward with optimism and determination.