CARSON CITY, Nev. (CBS/AP) — The federal agency that oversees Medicaid and Medicare compliance has put Nevada on notice of “serious deficiencies” at a Las Vegas psychiatric hospital following reports of patients being improperly discharged.
A letter Thursday from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, first reported by The Sacramento Bee and obtained Friday by The Associated Press, gave Nevada 10 days to correct problems in its mental health discharge policies at Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital or risk the loss of federal funding, potentially tens of millions of dollars.
The move follows an investigation launched by the Bee after James F. Brown, a patient at Rawson-Neal, was put on a bus alone in February and sent on a 15-hour trip to Sacramento, where he knew no one. Brown suffers from schizophrenia and depression.
The newspaper then reviewed bus ticket receipts dating to 2008 and found the hospital, part of the Southern Nevada Ault Mental Health Services, had transported about 1,500 patients to other states. Roughly 500 went to California.
Last year alone, Rawson-Neal bused out patients at a pace of more than one per day, shipping nearly 400 patients to a total of 176 cities and 45 states across the country, the Bee reported.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, along with the Los Angeles city attorney, launched their own criminal investigations into whether Nevada engaged in “patient dumping.”
California state Sen. Darrell Steinberg, who also called for an investigation, said Nevada has put people at “grave risk” and he welcomed the intervention by the federal agency.
“People with mental health disorders can recover with access to prevention, early intervention and treatment,” Steinberg, a Democrat, said in a statement Friday. He called Brown’s treatment “tantamount to abuse,” adding that the hospital and Nevada “must be held accountable by federal regulators.”