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Osawatomie State Hospital facing loss of Medicare funds

Osawatomie State Hospital.
Osawatomie State Hospital.

Osawatomie State Hospital is slated to lose Medicare funds from the federal government for patient care after Monday.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services told the state that it will no longer pay for new patients admitted to the state mental hospital because of noncompliance with federal regulations.

The state mental hospital in eastern Kansas cares for involuntary admissions from Sedgwick County and other counties.

Payment may continue until Jan. 20 for patients admitted before the Monday deadline.

That means the state will shoulder the costs of caring for patients admitted after Monday, disability and aging services department spokeswoman Angela de Rocha said.

The hospital does not comply with a part of the Social Security Act “which requires a hospital to provide services which are sufficient to meet the needs of its patients,” according to a legal notice first published in the Osawatomie Graphic newspaper on Wednesday.

The notice added that the hospital was determined to be in non-compliance during a Nov. 3 survey. Federal inspectors with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) revisited Osawatomie Friday afternoon.

De Rocha said the center informed the state Friday afternoon of its decision.

“The survey revealed a condition or circumstance that would put someone’s life or well-being in jeopardy,” de Rocha said.

The state had tried working to correct compliance violations, de Rocha said.

“It’s fairly safe to assume that they decided that our implementation of the plan of corrections did not meet their standards,” de Rocha said.

She said the department would likely receive a formal letter explaining the specific reasons for the termination of Medicare payments early next week.

Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services Secretary Kari Bruffett said the hospital will remain open and will continue to care for and treat its patients.

“The hospital intends to seek Medicare recertification immediately,” Bruffett said in a Friday statement. “During that process, the hospital will continue to accept patients. Osawatomie staff will continue to work diligently to meet certification standards.”

Osawatomie, in Miami County near the Missouri state line, is one of two state mental hospitals. It mostly serves eastern and southern Kansas, including Sedgwick County. Larned is the other state hospital.

The two institutions care for people who are a danger to themselves or others. Patients are usually admitted involuntarily.

Osawatomie has had a cap on the number of patients it admits, creating a waiting list that has persisted since June.

The waiting list began after federal officials raised safety concerns, such as fixtures in the ceilings that patients could hang themselves from.

The state began facility renovations to comply with federal regulations. That limited the number of beds available, creating a moratorium that resulted in a mental health waiting list in Sedgwick County.

CMS spokesman Mike Fierberg, from the Denver regional office, said compliance inspections try to ensure the highest quality of care is provided.

“It’s not our goal to shut these places down,” Fierberg said. “That’s stupid. That doesn’t serve anybody.”

“We want to make sure they are adhering to the conditions of participation in Medicare that they signed on to in the first place,” he said.

Fierberg said CMS will review the progress Osawatomie makes to address its compliance issues.

“There aren’t many places that could survive very long without Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement,” Fierberg said.

Daniel Salazar: 316-269-6791, @imdanielsalazar