West Virginia Executive Winter 2022 February 2022 | Page 103

programs are subject to CON review , but West Virginia Code § 16-2D-9 bars the Health Care Authority from granting CON approval for the development of additional programs . While the legislature did not pass a bill requiring CON review for drug treatment programs in 2021 , there may be some renewed call for this additional scrutiny during the 2022 legislative session .
Meanwhile , the increases in treatment facilities across the nation inspired Congress to take action to prevent abuses aimed at patients suffering from substance use disorders . For instance , the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act ( EKRA ) was passed in 2018 and seeks to prevent the making of money off patient referrals by prohibiting clinics , labs , recovery centers and others from providing or accepting remuneration , or kickbacks , for such referrals . The penalties associated with EKRA violations are very steep and include fines of up to $ 200,000 , imprisonment for no more than 10 years or both for each occurrence . Furthermore , EKRA is broader than the more familiar Anti- Kickback Statute ( AKS ) in that it is not limited to federal and state health care programs . Lastly , EKRA has fewer statutory safe harbors and , unlike AKS and the Stark law , no regulatory safe harbors . As such , providers of treatment and recovery services should obtain legal advice before executing contracts with laboratories or other sources of potential referrals to ensure compliance with EKRA and other applicable laws .
Looking Forward
As new variants emerge and West Virginians continue to adjust to life with COVID-19 , both Christiansen and Rader agree that the most important thing individuals can do for those suffering with SUD is to let them know they are cared for .
“ It is more important than ever to reach out and tell them recovery is possible , and there is a path out of addiction ,” says Christiansen .
As more and more resources emerge , West Virginians in Cabell County and across the state will continue to work to take care of each other .
“ As we look toward the future , I hope we have moved passed this and gotten back on track with doing bigger and better things for those suffering ,” says Rader . “ Reaching 100,000 deaths in a year is beyond sad and so unnecessary . But I ’ m an optimist , and I think we will come out of this stronger and find even better ways to help those suffering .” •