A troubling new report on for-profit mental health centers reveals nearly all of those in Houston have problems with their Medicare claims, confirming many of the problems first reported by the Houston Chronicle nearly a year ago.
The report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, found that 13 of the 16 clinics in Houston - 81 percent - had "questionable" claims submitted to Medicare. These types of clinics, known as "community mental health centers," offer intense mental health therapy in an outpatient-setting, as an alternative to a mental health hospitalization.
After examining claims submitted to Medicare during 2009 and 2010, the agency noted several billing problems: clinics billing for services not needed, patients being sent long distances for treatment and the fact that patients were not being referred to the for-profit clinics by health care providers first.
The Houston Chronicle reported nearly a year ago how the amount of Medicare dollars flowing to two troubled sectors - private ambulances and mental health clinics - was steadily rising. The news organization's reports detailed how able-bodied Medicare enrollees were frequently being ferried by ambulances to clinics all over the Houston area.
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Most mental health clinics have suspect Medicare claims