Lawmakers call for probe into length of stay concerns at Florida psych hospital

Lawmakers are urging federal regulators to investigate North Tampa Behavioral Health after the Tampa Bay Times published an investigative report about the Wesley Chapel, Fla.-based psychiatric hospital Sept. 18.

The report alleged that the hospital uses loopholes in Florida's mental health law to hold some patients beyond the maximum 72-hour limit, thereby boosting revenue.

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, sent a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma Oct. 3, urging the agency to investigate any potential wrongful billing practices at the hospital.

State Rep. Randy Maggard, R-Dade City, also called on the Agency for Health Care Administration and Florida's Department of Children and Families to investigate the claims. DCF and CMS declined Tampa Bay Times' request for comment. The Agency for Health Care Administration said it was reviewing the report's findings.

North Tampa Behavioral Health "strongly rejects any claim that it deliberately or willfully holds patients against their will absent a legitimate, clinically-based determination by a licensed psychiatrist," CEO Bryon Coleman Jr. told the Tampa Bay Times.

To view the full report, click here.

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