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Hazelden plans expansion of Betty Ford Centers in the west

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Hazelden, the groundbreaking addiction treatment center headquartered in Minnesota, is contemplating an expansion of the recently-acquired Betty Ford Center, with new outpatient facilities named for the former first lady under consideration in California, Texas and Arizona.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Hazelden Foundation may put the Betty Ford name on treatment centers in Santa Monica, San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas and elsewhere. The first new Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation outpatient center could open in the Los Angeles area by the end of this year. The expansion represents a shift in the care that has been provided at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage since 1982. The center is best known for residential treatment, chosen by 90 percent of its clients. The new facilities would offer outpatient care.

At the time of the merger, the Star Tribune reported that analysts said the combined centers are positioned to attract more clients. The Affordable Care Act requires insurance coverage for drug and alcohol abuse treatment. The story noted that such mergers represent a national trend in health care in which organizations join forces to expand the areas that they cover and serve.

The 160-bed Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage has treated more than 100,000 people since it opened, including celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor and Johnny Cash. In recent years, for-profit treatment centers have cut into its business in California.

Shortly before Ford's death in 2011, her daughter Susan Ford Bale quit the center's board in an acrimonious split. Vaden Bales, Susan Ford's husband, told the Los Angeles newspaper that they consulted with outside experts last summer when Hazelden approached the family with the merger idea. The story notes that the Betty Ford Center always had close ties to Hazelden. The first lady visited the Minnesota institution before starting her center.

In addition to Betty Ford in California, Hazelden has 14 treatment locations in eight states.

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