Arizona mental hospital threatened with loss of certification and Medicare, Medicaid reimbursements

Arizona's state mental hospital has failed a recent inspection by federal regulators and it could end up costing taxpayers millions of dollars.

The ABC15 Investigators have learned the Arizona State Hospital, known as ASH, is in jeopardy of losing its certification from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, known as CMS.

See the letter sent to hospital officials regarding problems at the Arizona State Hospital

Almost all the patients at ASH receive Medicare or Medicaid and the loss of certification for the state mental hospital could mean the loss of millions of dollars in federal reimbursements.

Federal inspectors from CMS visited the state mental hospital in September. This visit came after several ABC15 investigations and one week after our exclusive report on the death of 23-year-old patient Christopher Blackwell.

In an exclusive interview, Christopher Blackwell's mother told us she plans to file a lawsuit against the hospital.

As a result of the inspection CMS sent a letter to the state saying it has determined the hospital is out of compliance with federal requirements.

The letter cites "serious deficiencies" in the area of nursing services, patient rights and the governing body.

According to inspectors the hospital does not have the "capacity to render adequate care" and the deficiencies discovered "adversely impact patient health and safety."

The specific deficiencies cited in the inspection report have not yet been made public.

ABC15 Investigators contacted the office of Arizona State Senator Nancy Barto, the chairperson of the Senate Health Committee.

Her assistant told us Senator Barto was unaware of the letter but she's investigating the matter.

But Arizona State Representative Chad Campbell told us it is time for lawmakers to take a serious look at all the problems at the Arizona State Hospital.

The hospital has until Friday to correct the problems according to the letter from CMS.

And the solutions have to be corrective actions and not just plans for future corrections or evidence of progress toward improvements according to the letter.

We tried to speak to Arizona State Health Director Will Humble about the problems at ASH and how the state plans to address the problems found by federal inspectors.

Humble is ultimately the man responsible for the hospital.

When we caught up with him at the state capitol, he ignored our questions and then declined to be interviewed, saying he was on his way to a meeting.

The Governor's office also did not respond to a request for comment.

A CMS spokesperson said their final inspection report with specific findings could be released as early as next week.

Watch our exclusive report on the shocking level of violence at the Arizona State Hospital.

Watch our original report on the dangerous number of escapes from Arizona's state mental hospital.


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