Senator seeks details on UHS investigation from HHS

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to HHS on Friday asking the federal agency to provide information about the investigation into the alleged issues at behavioral health facilities owned by King of Prussia, Pa.-based Universal Health Services that were detailed in a recent BuzzFeed News investigative report.

BuzzFeed's story was the result of a yearlong BuzzFeed News investigation, which involved reviewing internal documents and interviews with 175 current and former UHS staff and more than 120 patients, government investigators and other experts. The story alleges UHS psychiatric hospitals kept patients longer than necessary and against their will to maximize reimbursement from insurers. The report also raised questions about the quality of care provided at the psychiatric hospitals.

"The pattern of conduct described by the report paints a picture of greed and raises serious questions about patient safety," wrote Sen. Grassley in the letter to HHS. "I understand there is an investigation underway. However, the level of your office's involvement is unclear. Accordingly, by December 23, 2016, please detail what steps your office is taking to investigate UHS for its apparent abuses."

According to BuzzFeed, two other lawmakers, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) have also denounced UHS' alleged misconduct.

Following the release of the BuzzFeed story on Dec. 7, UHS' stock price fell 12 percent. 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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