Behavior center with Jacksonville facilities reaches $127M settlement with feds

Veteran: Toxic environment at local clinic

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A national behavioral health provider accused of keeping patients against their will has reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Universal Health Services, which owns the mental health facilities Wekiva Springs and River Point Behavioral Health in Jacksonville, agreed to pay the federal government $127 million to settle the investigation into billing practices.

Action News Jax has been investigating patient care at Wekiva Springs and River Point Behavioral Health since 2016.

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Dozens of former patients have come forward, claiming they were held longer than medically necessary so the facilities could milk their insurance payments.

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Army veteran James Shupe said he was involuntarily committed to Wekiva Springs in April under Florida’s Baker Act.

“They just kept me there,” Shupe said.

Shupe said he saw the psychiatrist the day he was committed to the facility on April 6, which was a Saturday.

“I told her what happened and she’s, like, ‘OK, I’m going to take the Baker Act off of you,’” Shupe said.

He said he thought he was going to be able to leave that same day, but he wasn’t released until Tuesday.

“I feel like I just got warehoused for profit being that the VA didn’t have a space for me,” Shupe said.

Shupe said he left the facility feeling traumatized.

In its quarterly report, Universal Health Services said it’s been advised the previously disclosed investigations being conducted by the DOJ's Criminal Frauds Section in connection with these matters have been closed.

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