The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) of Florida, a non-profit mental health watchdog dedicated to the eradication of abuses committed under the guise of mental health, is asking state agencies to look into why for-profit psychiatric hospitals currently under investigation for fraud are still operating as designated receiving facilities for those sent for involuntary psychiatric examination under the mental health law.
Commonly referred to as the Baker Act, the mental health law in Florida allows men, women and children to be sent for involuntary psychiatric examination at 127 public and private psychiatric facilities across the state. These designated Baker Act Receiving Facilities are funded in part by the State of Florida and are contracted by Behavioral Health Managing Entities through the Department of Children and Families to receive and hold involuntary patients under emergency conditions for psychiatric evaluation and to provide short-term treatment.
As a mental health watchdog organization working to investigate and expose mental health abuses in Florida, CCHR consistently receives reports of alleged abuse or fraud committed in Baker Act Receiving Facilities and as a result is demanding answers as to why private psychiatric facilities that are currently under investigation are still contracted and being paid to hold people on an involuntary basis.
A shocking example is the mental health facilities owned by Universal Health Services, Inc. (UHS). UHS runs the largest network of private for-profit psychiatric hospitals in the country with more than 200 psychiatric facilities and has annual revenue of $7.5 billion dollars – a third of which comes from Medicare and Medicaid. 
Presently 26 of UHS’s behavioral-psychiatric facilities are under federal investigation by the Department of Justice Civil and Criminal Divisions, the Office of the Inspector General, the Department of Defense, the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the FBI for alleged fraudulent billing practices under Medicare and Medicaid.
Included in this investigation are Central Florida Behavioral Hospital, River Point Behavioral Health, University Behavioral Center and Wekiva Springs, which are all Baker Act Receiving Facilities in Florida and all are still open and being paid to hold citizens for involuntary psychiatric examination.
Earlier this year Governor Mary Fallin (R-Oklahoma) and Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) called for an immediate investigation into UHS and Oklahoma took it one step farther by terminating the Medicaid contract with UHS and by no longer sending minors in the state’s custody to a UHS facility.
In November lawmakers in Alabama joined the growing list of officials in calling for regulators to thoroughly investigate UHS when Representative Terri Sewell (D-Alabama), called for a probe into the UHS owned facility in that state following an investigative news story that revealed video footage showing staff members beating and dragging children in the facility.
“CCHR wants to know why Florida is not taking action when lawmakers in other states are clearly viewing the allegations and investigations into UHS as a serious matter,” said Diane Stein, President of CCHR Florida.
As a result, CCHR is calling for an investigation into the designation of UHS facilities as Baker Act Receiving Facilities and is asking for anyone employed in the mental health profession, families of people who have suffered abuse in a psychiatric facility or any staff or former staff of such facilities with knowledge of healthcare fraud or psychiatric abuse to please contact CCHR with full particulars and any documentary evidence at 727-442-8820 or online at www.cchrflorida.org.
About CCHR: Initially established by the Church of Scientology and renowned psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Szasz in 1969, CCHR’s mission is to eradicate abuses committed under the guise of mental health and enact patient and consumer protections. It was L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, who brought the terror of psychiatric imprisonment to the notice of the world. In March 1969, he said, “Thousands and thousands are seized without process of law, every week, over the ‘free world’ tortured, castrated, killed. All in the name of ‘mental health.’”
Release ID: 273987