Rep. Joe Kennedy III urges action on probe of US’s biggest behavioral health provider

U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III (MA), joined by Rep. Danny Davis (IL), has urged the top official of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to take action to ensure the safety of patients at Universal Health Services. UHS is the nation’s biggest behavioral health provider and 21 of its behavioral facilities are under investigation for potentially illegal clinical practices.

A media advisory from Rep. Kennedy’s office and a link to the letter are below. For background on UHS, please contact Jim McNeill at 202-213-1614 or Jim@UHSBehindClosedDoors.org.

For Release: Tuesday, 6/23/15 // Contact: Rep. Kennedy’s Office – Emily Kaufman (617) 332-3333, Dan Black (202) 225-5931

CONGRESSMAN KENNEDY PUSHES HHS ON INVESTIGATION INTO MENTAL HEALTH NETWORK

Urges action on investigations into unsafe conditions and inadequate treatment at Universal Health Services facilities

Newton, MA – In light of troubling allegations of misconduct, negligence and employee intimidation at Universal Health Services (UHS) facilities, Congressman Joe Kennedy III today pushed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the status of their investigation into the nation’s largest behavioral healthcare system. Over the past several years, a UHS-owned psychiatric hospital in Brookline, Massachusetts has been cited for unsafe conditions, inadequate treatment and other clinical deficiencies that may have hindered patients’ recoveries. Additional reports detail claims of violence, sexual assaults, patient runaways and lack of security staff at UHS facilities in Illinois and Ohio, as well as company efforts to threaten employees who speak up about these conditions.

Kennedy sent a letter to Andy Slavitt, Acting Administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, requesting an update on the status of the agency’s investigation and any planned action by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) against UHS.

“Patients and their families seeking behavioral health treatment should not only receive the care and treatment they need, but the safety and security that they deserve,” said Congressman Kennedy. “As the largest behavioral health network in the United States, UHS touches hundreds of thousands of families. While these allegations merit a thorough investigation by HHS, they also require swift action to protect patients across the country.”

“For UHS caregivers who’ve spoken up for quality care, it’s very encouraging to know that Rep. Kennedy and Rep. Danny Davis, who co-signed the letter, are standing up for a serious and timely investigation of the problems at UHS,” said Kirk Adams, International Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union. Adams leads the work of SEIU Healthcare, which represents more than 1 million healthcare workers, including caregivers at a number of UHS facilities. “America’s taxpayers give UHS billions of dollars every year to provide behavioral services, and they need to know that money is being used to provide high-quality patient care.”

According to the letter, the Department of Health and Human Services is currently investigating 21 UHS-owned facilities and the Department of Justice recently launched an investigation of the parent company. The letter also cites reports from The Boston Globe and The Chicago Tribune that raised concerns about negligent care and violence at UHS facilities in Massachusetts and Illinois.

For a copy of the full letter please click here.

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