LV Council candidate testifies on rehab conflicts, slams former company

grant sawyer
Las Vegas City Council candidate and former addiction industry executive David Marlon testifies on legislation from Las Vegas Monday.
grant sawyer
Las Vegas City Council candidate and former addiction industry executive David Marlon testifies on legislation from Las Vegas Monday.

“Solutions and Desert Hope are best-in-class facilities.”

That’s what David Marlon said when the Current asked last year about questionable practices at the Las Vegas companies he oversaw for American Addiction Centers, one of the nation’s largest drug and alcohol rehabilitation companies.

Monday, Marlon, who says he quit his job in January to run for a seat on the Las Vegas City Council, urged state lawmakers to outlaw some of the same practices in which he and his former employer engaged.

“I watched this law get passed in the state of Tennessee.  It brought about transparency and stopped financial incentives within marketing of treatment centers,” he testified. 

“Our treatment centers are the answer to the opioid epidemic and some bad actors are rocking the industry,” Marlon testified. “It’s not just call centers. I watched it happen from within the company. They were paying sales representatives per person. I recognized it creates a perverse incentive.”

Critics say paying commission to intake personnel gives them incentive to admit clients who may need a more intensive level of care.

Marlon’s campaign declined to comment on his revelations and AAC did not respond to the Current.

In June 2018, the Current asked Marlon about AAC’s practice of paying its intake personnel on commission.

“You are misinformed about our compensation practices. Our compensation practices are legally compliant; in fact, we have advocated for legislation that removes conflicts of interest in addiction industry compensation structures,” Marlon responded via email.

The next month, under questioning from a congressional committee, AAC’s president Michael Cartwright testified before a congressional committee that the company had just abandoned the practice of compensating intake personnel on commission that month.

Marlon, who serves as the president of the Nevada Addiction Professionals, says he asked Sen. Scott Hammond to sponsor the legislation.  

Senate Bill 288 would make it illegal for a treatment provider, rehab facility, or marketing service to make false or misleading statements or provide false information about products, goods, services or geographical locations.

Clients and their family members often complain the images and services featured on addiction treatment center websites fail to live up to their billing.

The legislation would make it illegal to solicit or receive a commission, bonus, cash or in-kind fee in return for referral to a treatment facility.

The legislation would require marketing call centers and websites to disclose their affiliation to the facilities paying their fees and to notify prospective clients of other available options.

Dana Gentry
Reporter | Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana is the mother of four adult children, three cats, three dogs and a cockatoo.

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