Largest U.S. Psychiatric Hospital Chain (UHS) Loses $1.5 Billion within 6 Hours
Following BuzzFeed News Exposé
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.
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, demanding that the Department of Health and Human Services 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….”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declined to respond to Senator Grassley’s request due to the legal constraints of ongoing investigations, although it has agreed to brief the Senator’s office.
UHS’s 211 for-profit psychiatric hospitals in the United States earned $7.5 billion in revenues last year. More than a third of the company’s overall revenue comes from taxpayers through Medicare and Medicaid. There are three UHS hospitals in Missouri: Heartland Behavioral Health Services in Nevada; Saint Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute in St. Louis; and Two Rivers Behavioral Health System in Kansas City.
CCHR says its website offers an easy online form for families of patients treated in UHS behavioral hospitals or staff to report in confidence any allegations of abuse. Click here to file a report. CCHR has assisted whistleblowers in getting their allegations reported to the proper authorities for action, but says in the interests of patient welfare, federal investigations should come to a quick resolution.
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. Visit CCHR STL to donate and see what you can do about this.