Universal Health Services officially finalized its settlement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) resolving aspects of investigations at its behavioral health care facilities.
The King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based health giant—as well as Turning Point Care Center, a UHS facility located in Moultrie, Georgia—agreed to pay a settlement of $117 million to settle false claims allegations related to medically unnecessary inpatient behavioral health services and illegal kickbacks, the DOJ said in an announcement.
In a separate civil settlement, Turning Point will agree to a $5 million settlement to resolve allegations it provided free or discounted transportation services to induce Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to seek treatment at Turning Point’s inpatient detoxification and rehabilitation program or intensive outpatient program.
“Quality mental health treatment is critical for the patients who place their trust in the hands of service providers,” said William McSwain, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, in a statement. “The allegations involved in this matter—inappropriate billing and inadequate care—have no place in our health care system. Behavioral health service entities must have strong mechanisms in place, including appropriate supervision and oversight, to avoid fraud and abuse in order to ensure they provide the level of care that their patients deserve.”
It's the conclusion of a yearslong saga prompted by allegations that UHS promoted holding patients longer than necessary to maximize profits that spawned an investigation by multiple federal agencies.
The government alleged between 2006 and 2018, UHS facilities admitted patients who weren't eligible for inpatient or residential treatment because their conditions did not require that level of care, while also failing to properly discharge appropriately admitted beneficiaries when they no longer required inpatient care. The DOJ also alleged UHS’ facilities billed for services not rendered, billed for improper and excessive lengths of stay, failed to provide adequate staffing, training and/or supervision of staff and improperly used physical and chemical restraints and seclusion.
In its own announcement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, UHS officials said they were looking to put the matter to rest.
"The Company denies the allegations raised in this matter and the settlement does not constitute a finding of improper conduct or failure to provide appropriate care and treatment in accordance with governing rules and regulations or an admission of facts or liability by the Company or any of its subsidiary behavioral health facilities," officials said in the statement. "UHS is pleased to have resolved this matter to avoid future distractions and the high costs of litigation, while ensuring that our focus remains steadfast on providing excellent care to our patients and their families."
UHS said the settlement agreements were consistent with the previously announced agreement in principle announced last year. On July 9, UHS officials said, they made net aggregate payments of approximately $117.3 million, which is net of approximately $9.7 million of aggregate funds previously withheld from the company.