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Merger of Hazelden, Betty Ford Center becomes official

February 11, 2014
by Gary A. Enos, Contributing Editor
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The mega-merger of Hazelden and the Betty Ford Center is now complete, as approval of the deal by the California Attorney General's office marked the last regulatory milestone needed to establish the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. The official announcement of the merger of arguably the two best-known nonprofit addiction treatment facilities came on Feb. 10.

As he had suggested in an interview with Addiction Professional (Behavioral Healthcare's sister publication) last fall, the president and CEO of the merged organization this week referenced the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its emphasis on integrated care as setting the stage for this major business development. “We are now well-positioned to respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by health care reform and the rapidly changing marketplace,” Mark Mishek said in a news release.

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation now comprises 15 residential and outpatient service sites grounded in 12-Step treatment, along with other high-profile activities such as an addiction research center, a graduate school of addiction studies and a program for children affected by addiction in the family.

A new website that will continue to report on ongoing developments with the merged organization has been launched.

Mishek added, “Our merger is also taking place at a time, historically, when recovery communities are beginning to coalesce around the idea of taking action to reduce the stigma that prevents so many people from seeking help. More people in recovery are sharing their stories so that the general public can see the other side of addiction. I credit Mrs. Ford, more than anyone in history, with beginning the effort to chip away at stigma by publicly sharing her own recovery experience, and now is a great time to be carrying her legacy forward.”

Mishek indicated last year that expanding the Betty Ford Center's outpatient capacity constituted a primary goal, given that even one of the most celebrated residential treatment names might struggle long-term to remain viable with residential services only.

The timetable for completing the merger ended up extending slightly beyond an original projection of completion by the end of last year.