In Philadelphia, addicts have become a cash crop, used by some treatment centers and recovery houses to create a perpetual money churn. On the street, it's called "pimping out."
By Alfred Lubrano
Each day, through the streets of Kensington, Frankford, and North Philadelphia, hundreds of opioid addicts are forced to make a little-noticed commute.
More like cargo than passengers, junk-muddled men and women journey in vans from their boarding houses to drug-treatment centers for a form of group therapy whose efficacy is unknown.
Stripped of basic rights, addicts are told by the people who run their boarding houses — called recovery houses — what facility to attend, when to go, and for how long. If addicts don’t take the van rides, house operators threaten them with eviction. People suffering from substance abuse must then fend for themselves on the streets, or in the heroin encampment in Fairhill.
In exchange for herding people into centers, recovery-house operators pocket illegal, under-the-table payments – ranging from $100 to $400 per person monthly – that keep them in business.
The centers, in turn, bill the government for a piece of the $680 million in Medicaid and state money disbursed in 2016 by a nonprofit ...