In the past 18 months, Citizens Commission on Human Rights International (CCHR) has filed over 2,860 official complaints against Universal Health Services (UHS) behavioral facilities with state and federal agencies, the FBI, healthcare fraud control units, and state and federal legislators. CCHR has documented potential fraud and abuse and, therefore, applauds a recent BuzzFeed News exposé – the results of its own year-long investigation into UHS. Within 6 hours of the BuzzFeed News article, stock in UHS, the largest chain of psychiatric facilities in the U.S., that treats 450,000 people annually, plummeted $1.5 billion.
Like CCHR, BuzzFeed News interviewed whistleblowers and staff from UHS psych facilities to obtain its information. It independently documented allegations that UHS staff were pressured to:
- “Fill beds” by whatever means necessary.
- “Exaggerate people’s symptoms” or “twist their words” in order to hold them against their will.
- Lock the door and keep patients until their insurance payments run out.
Senators Call for Federal Investigation and DOJ Action
In response to the BuzzFeed News exposé, three federal legislators have called for a full investigation into UHS, with Senator Charles Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, giving Health and Human Services until December 23 to report what steps are being taken to investigate the patient abuse and fraud claims against UHS psych hospitals. “The pattern of conduct described by the report paints a picture of greed and raises serious questions about patient safety.” Rep. Joe Kennedy III spoke of “abuse, neglect, fraud” at UHS behavioral facilities with “an emphasis of profits over treatment and care.” And Sen. Elizabeth Warren, stated: “The Department of Justice [DOJ] must put an end to these shameful practices for the safety of patients….”
Help CCHR get this new information broadly known and distributed to state and federal policy makers, law enforcement and health agencies across the country. The for-profit psychiatric hospital system is putting patients at serious risk and with this recent exposé and the legislators’ call, it is vital that we share the evidence that we have about UHS and other privately owned behavioral hospital chains. Please donate today.