By Jane Smith

    The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Sober Homes Task Force has met its year-end deadline to make recommendations to the Florida Legislature about possible changes to counteract sober home fraud.
    The state attorney received a one-time $275,000 state grant to study the issue. Some changes the task force recommended to the legislature are:
    • Increase money given to the Florida Department of Children and Families by raising fees charged to treatment providers and recovery residence operators so that the department has adequate staff needed to grant and take away licenses.
    • Strengthen penalties and increase fines for multiple violations of the state’s patient-brokering statute, which prohibits paying for patient referrals.
    • Create requirements for drug treatment marketers and pass legislation to prohibit unethical marketing practices.
    • Allow law enforcement officers to obtain medical records without having to notify patients when a court gives approval.
    State Attorney Dave Aronberg and his chief assistant, Al Johnson, plan to lobby for the changes when the legislative session starts in March. They have lined up Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton, and Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, to sponsor the legislation.
    “There is absolutely bipartisan and statewide support for this issue,” Hager has said.

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