UHS Discloses Federal Probe Is False Claims Act Investigation, 19 Behavioral Facilities Now Being Probed

For Release: Friday, 2/27/15 // Contact: Jim McNeill, Jim@UHSBehindClosedDoors.org

– Universal Health Services reveals federal probe of its behavioral facilities has expanded again, feds now calling it False Claims Act investigation

– Disclosures came Thursday night in 2014 earnings report; @UHSClosedDoors to live tweet UHS investor call today at 9 a.m. ET

The nation’s largest provider of behavioral health services is facing intensified scrutiny from federal investigators. Universal Health Services Inc. (UHS) disclosed Thursday night that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) subpoenaed another one of its behavioral facilities in December, bringing the total number of UHS facilities under investigation to 19.[1]

UHS also disclosed that federal officials have advised them that the civil aspect of the coordinated probe is a False Claims Act investigation focused on billings submitted to the government.[2]

The disclosure came in UHS’s release yesterday of its 2014 earnings report. UHS will hold an investor call about the report this morning at 9 a.m., and UHSBehindClosedDoors.org — which is on Twitter at @UHSClosedDoors — will live tweet today’s investor call.

In addition to the news of the expanded federal probe, other important takeaways from the 2014 earnings report include:

  • The profit margin in the behavioral division was 23.9 percent[3] — meaning nearly 1-in-4 dollars of revenue went into profits, not patient care.
  • UHS cut staffing costs in its behavioral division to their lowest level in the last decade, with just 48.6 percent of revenue going to staff salaries, wages and benefits.[4] (See our website for information about patient care failures at UHS that may be linked to inadequate staffing.)
  • The aggressive growth of UHS’s behavioral division continued, with the company adding 602 new beds in the United States[5] and the number of patient admissions growing 6.2 percent to 426,500.[6] Eleven years ago, UHS had less than 100,000 patient admissions.[7]

More information about UHS is available at UHSBehindClosedDoors.org. The website, a project of SEIU, includes a full list of the 19 UHS facilities targeted by the federal probe. The latest facility under investigation is Salt Lake Behavioral Health in Salt Lake City, which UHS said was added to the probe in December.[8]

The government has not publicly released details of the ongoing investigation. But UHS’s 2014 10-K, which was posted last night on the Securities and Exchange Commission website, offered a description of the probe. According to UHS, “The DOJ has advised us that the civil aspect of the coordinated investigation in connection with the behavioral health facilities named above is a False Claim [sic] Act investigation focused on billings submitted to government payers in relation to services provided at those facilities.”[9]

UHSBehindClosedDoors.org is bringing to light serious problems in care at Universal Health Services, the nation’s largest provider of behavioral health care. It is an online resource for mental health advocates and caregivers supported by the Service Employees International Union.