LOS ANGELES, May 31, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Mental health care fraud is costing the nation both financially and in patients' lives. The non-profit mental health industry watchdog group, Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) International, sees government investment in health care fraud as vital and calls for increased investigations into the for-profit behavioral hospital system to improve patient rights.
CCHR, a 48-year mental health watchdog, praised the Federal government for investing in actions to help curtail the massive fraud and patient abuse that has been documented in the nation's mental health system. CCHR is responding to the Federal government's proposed budget blueprint to fight health care fraud, providing $751 million in discretionary funding for the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control account. "The proposed funding increase represents a commitment by the administration to continue supporting the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) model," according to a Bloomberg BNA Health Care Fraud Report.
Over the past two decades, CCHR has documented over $3.7 billion in criminal and civil fraud settlements and fines in the private behavioral sector. It says existing investigations into the for-profit mental health industry should be expanded to ensure patient protections are adhered to. Legislative moves toward curbing mandated mental health insurance coverage and reducing Medicaid and Medicare costs may also help prevent health care fraud and improve patient conditions, Ms. Jan Eastgate, President of CCHR International, stated.
She said that the mental health industry receives hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicare and Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Mental Health Parity helped make the industry a profitable investment. However, "this financial windfall didn't translate into effective and better care. The ACA and Mental Health Parity were often a blank check for poor quality care, while becoming an incentive for fraud. Patients must always be put above profit," Eastgate said.
Eastgate has worked with CCHR for 40 years and has monitored legislative and insurance trends and the impact these have had on patients' rights. As a center for applied ethics from the Santa Clara University points out regarding health care generally, "During the past 20 years, the number of for-profit health care facilities, ranging from national hospital chains affiliated with major academic institutions" to local centers, "has grown at a rate exceeding even that of the computer industry."[i] According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there are about 14,000 for-profit behavioral and substance abuse facilities in the U.S.
In June 2016, National Public Radio reported that the ACA had also provided a "huge stream of cash" for companies "to tap into."[ii]
Dr. Bill Bithoney of Sisters of Providence Health System points out that because mental disorders are chronically treated, "revenue streams are secure."[iii] Eastgate said this "chronic treatment" is more likely because, as psychiatrists admit, there are no cures in mental health and, as such, "the treatment can be a continued source of profit, rather than results for patients."
The World Psychiatric Association and the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) say there are no known causes for mental disorders. In 2013, Dr. Thomas Insel, then Director of NIMH, pointed out the weakness in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), saying that "DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure."[iv]
Allen Frances, professor of psychiatry emeritus of Duke University and head the fourth revision of DSM, warned insurance companies, educators and policy makers to ignore DSM5, stating: "Its suggestions are reckless, unsupported by science, and likely to result in a great deal of loose, inaccurate diagnosis and unnecessary, harmful and costly treatment."[v]
Since June 2015, CCHR has filed thousands of complaints to law enforcement, health officials, state FBI agencies and Federal and State legislators about patient concerns and questionable billing. It has also disclosed that a high number of psychiatrists affiliated with the for-profit behavioral sector are top national and state prescribers of psychotropic drugs, billing millions of dollars each year to Medicare Part D (prescriptions). Patients have been prescribed powerful psychotropic drugs as a "quick fix" approach to mental health care, CCHR says.
Eastgate adds, "With a multi-million-dollar Federal commitment now to cleaning up health care fraud, we may finally be seeing the turning point in also helping curb patient abuse committed under the guise of mental health care across the nation."
CCHR urges anyone who has been abused in the mental health system to report this to CCHR.
Contact: Amber Rauscher, email@example.com or (323) 467-4242.
About CCHR: CCHR was established in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and Dr. Thomas Szasz, Professor of Psychiatry and Lifetime Fellow of the American Psychiatric Assoc. CCHR has helped obtain over 175 laws that protect individuals against psychiatric abuse. Widespread recognition of its work includes U.S. Congressman support, stating, "Through united action, effective education and advocacy, CCHR has helped to bring about critically needed health care reforms that make our society and country a better place."
[i] "A healthy Bottom Line: Profits or People," Markula Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University, https://www.scu.edu/ethics/focus-areas/bioethics/resources/a-healthy-bottom-line-profits-or-people/.
[ii] "Investors See Big Opportunities in Opioid Addiction Treatment," NPR, 10 June 2016, http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/06/10/480663056/investors-see-big-opportunities-in-opioid-addiction-treatment.
[iii] "Behavioral Health: A market ripe for growth and consolidation," BDO United States, (industry's largest associations of accounting, consulting, and professional service firms), Mar. 2015, https://www.bdo.com/insights/industries/healthcare/behavioral-health-a-market-ripe-for-growth.
[iv] Thomas Insel, "Transforming Diagnosis," NIMH Website, 20 Apr. 2013, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/2013/transforming-diagnosis.shtml.
[v] Allen Frances, "Does DSM-5 Have a Captive Audience?" Huffington Post, 4/14/2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/allen-frances/does-dsm-5-have-a-captive_b_3080553.html.
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SOURCE Citizens Commission on Human Rights International