“Complaints about UHS behavioral/psychiatric facilities have been filed with CCHR from patients, relatives and at least twenty-four whistleblowers (former employees) from at least seven UHS psychiatric facilities in recent years. CCHR is calling on other whistleblowers, patients and their families to continue to come forward.” — Jan Eastgate, President CCHR International
By CCHR International
DALLAS, TX – Friday, August 14, 2015: Federal regulators will cut Medicare and Medicaid funding today to the Timberlawn psychiatric hospital in Texas, owned by Universal Health Services (UHS), following a court ruling yesterday.[i] Timberlawn had requested a temporary restraining order to keep regulators from shutting off millions of dollars in federal funds, ordered after the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) found unsafe conditions that led to at least one woman’s death and other patients’ assaults, according to The Dallas Morning News.[ii]
Since February, the hospital had flunked multiple safety inspections and failed to make promised improvements. In June, CMS inspectors also found Timberlawn workers had falsified records to avoid scrutiny in a patient-harm case.[iii]
Citizens Commission on Human Rights applauds the decision, stating it has filed numerous complaints with federal and state officials about grievous problems at not only Timberlawn but at other UHS-owned psychiatric and behavioral facilities. Jan Eastgate, President CCHR International stated: “Complaints about UHS behavioral/psychiatric facilities have been filed with CCHR from patients, relatives and at least twenty-four whistleblowers (former employees) from at least seven UHS psychiatric facilities in recent years. CCHR is calling on other whistleblowers, patients and their families to continue to come forward.”
(Whistleblowers and those wishing to report abuse can fill out the form here all information is kept in strict confidence.)
“For years, the U.S. Department of Justice has been investigating individual facilities within UHS for alleged fraudulent billing practices to Medicare and Medicaid, but it expanded its criminal investigation to include the company’s headquarters in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania,” reported Healthcare Finance News, part of HiMMS Media that serves the healthcare industry.[iv]
A CMS official said the agency would stop reimbursements for new government-insured patients at Timberlawn starting today and will continue payments only on existing patients for up to 30 days.[v]
In addition to the loss of funding, the Texas Department of State Health Services is considering action, including revoking Timberlawn’s operating license.[vi]
[i] Timberlawn Mental Health System v. Sylvia Mathews Burwell, in her official capacity as Secretary, United States Department of Health and Human Services, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas Dallas Division, Case No.3:15-CV-2556-M, August 13, 2015.
[ii] Reese Dunklin, “Judge rules regulators can stop funding Timberlawn psychiatric hospital,” Dallas Morning News, August 13, 2015, http://www.dallasnews.com/news/metro/20150813-judge-rules-regulators-can-stop-funding-timberlawn-psychiatric-hospital.ece.
[iv] “Feds widen fraud probe of Universal Health Services to include headquarters,” Healthcare Finance, 1 Apr. 2015, http://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/feds-widen-fraud-probe-universal-health-services-include-headquarters.
[v] Op Cit., Reese Dunklin, Dallas Morning News.