Universal Health Services' corporate office has become part of the criminal investigation into whether the company fraudulently billed Medicare and Medicaid for behavioral health treatments, the company disclosed Tuesday.
The government began investigating certain UHS behavioral health facilities more than two years ago, but this month widened the scope of the inquiry to include the parent company, the King of Prussia, Pa.-based chain said in a regulatory filing.
UHS initially received a subpoena in February 2013 that requested information on 10 facilities dating back as far as January 2008.
Seven additional UHS facilities subsequently received subpoenas between June 2013 and as recently as this month.
The Justice Department's criminal fraud section also has become involved in the inquiry. In October 2013, it began investigating two of the facilities, Wekiva Springs Center and River Point Behavioral Health, both in Jacksonville, Fla. Criminal investigators also began focusing on the National Deaf Academy in Mount Dora, Fla., in February 2014.
The company has had preliminary conversations with the government about the investigation and believes the inquiry is in the early stages, Steve Filton, the company's chief financial officer, said during a February earnings call. The process is likely to take a long time and it's too soon to know the outcome, he added.
Last April, the CMS suspended Medicare payments to Jacksonville, Fla.-based River Point because of the investigation, and the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration followed suit to halt Medicaid payments. In September, CMS officials extended the payment suspension for another 180 days.
Despite the investigation, UHS has continued to experience rapid growth in its behavioral health division. The chain last year added 440 beds at its busiest facilities and opened two hospitals with a combined 162 beds. It plans to add at least 550 more beds to its facilities this year.
UHS reported that its adjusted behavioral health admissions increased 6.8% in the fourth quarter of last year compared with the prior-year period, and same-facility revenue was up 6.3%.