Feds investigate UHS psychiatric hospitals' billing practices

An investigation into whether King of Prussia, Pa.-based Universal Health Services' psychiatric hospitals hold patients longer than necessary to maximize reimbursement from insurers has broadened to include the FBI and Department of Defense, according to Buzzfeed News.

The probe began in 2013 when HHS issued subpoenas to 10 UHS psychiatric hospital and has since expanded to include the FBI and DoD, according to the report.

The DoD's investigation is focused on UHS' billings to Tricare. Although the DoD does not acknowledge or discuss ongoing investigations, two former employees of a UHS psychiatric facility told Buzzfeed they have been interviewed by an investigator from the DoD about the hospital's military unit, which treats post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, depression and other behavioral health issues.

In December, Buzzfeed News reported that UHS psychiatric hospitals kept patients longer than necessary and against their will to maximize reimbursement from insurers. The report, which was based on a yearlong investigation, also raised questions about the quality of care provided at the psychiatric hospitals.

In a press release issued in response to the story, UHS denied the conclusions drawn by the reporter. UHS said the story "misses the mark in several important ways leading to an inaccurate portrayal of UHS's behavioral health operations."

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