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October 25, 2014

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health care:

Rawson-Neal hospital could lose crucial Medicare funding

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Sam Morris

This is the front sign for the Rawson Neal Psychiatric Hospital Tuesday, May 7, 2013.

Updated Friday, Aug. 9, 2013 | 8:05 p.m.

A troubled Las Vegas psychiatric hospital is on the verge of losing federal funding, the Sacramento Bee reported Friday evening.

The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has issued a letter to the Nevada health department notifying the department that the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital is not in compliance with standards allowing it to receive payment for patients covered under Medicare, the Bee reported.

The Bee reported that the letter said that CMS is initiating a process to revoke funding but acknowledged the facility could retain funding if state officials prove they’ve corrected problems at Rawson-Neal.

"Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services is prepared to submit evidence of compliance to CMS," said Mary Wood, spokeswoman for Nevada's Department of Health and Human Services. "The recent changes in practices and policy, along with the additional funding to mental health services have strengthened the facility's capabilities to successfully comply with CMS certification requirements."

The hospital receives most of its funding from the state of Nevada, but Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services is budgeted to receive about $5.8 million this year from the federal government.

The Joint Commission, a nonprofit oversight agency for hospitals, has yanked the facility’s accreditation. Accreditation from that body is akin to a Better Business Bureau standard of quality.

But losing certification from CMS carries real financial losses for the state facility.

CMS certifies hospitals under the federal Social Security Act, which sets the minimum health and safety standards for health care providers like Rawson-Neal.

The state Legislature recently approved $2.1 million in spending for a variety of upgrades at the facility, including a move to hire more staff.

The health department said this week that it also hopes to spend $3 million more to renovate an old state hospital and open more patient beds in Southern Nevada.

But that project could be on the line if the federal government removes its financial support for the facility, leaving Nevada’s taxpayers to pick up the tab.

The state has had other difficulties achieving CMS certification. At a legislative committee meeting earlier this week, state officials had recommended stalling life safety upgrades at Lake’s Crossing hospital in Northern Nevada in favor of paying for upgrades in Southern Nevada. The life safety upgrades would be required to obtain CMS certification, state health officials said during legislative testimony.

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