Category Archives: Mental.Health

Incorrect Care: A Prison Profiteer turns care into Confinement

Source: Cate Graziani, MSSW, MPAff Eshe Cole, Ph.D., Grassroots Leadership, February 2016

Executive Summary:

As criminal justice reform sweeps the nation, an alarming trend has emerged that could mean private prison profiteers control a person’s fate for life, not just the term of a prison sentence. The same private prison profiteers who built billion dollar empires as partners in tough on crime policies are adapting to reforms by rebranding themselves — as humane treatment providers. The criminal justice system has created ample opportunities for their expansion, including mental health hospitals and civil commitment centers, correctional healthcare, and community corrections. This report will look specifically at one segment of their expansion: mental health hospitals and civil commitment centers, facilities that represent the potential for lifetime confinement and long-term guaranteed profit. In fact, the same for-profit company is making aggressive moves to take over both types of facilities. Correct Care Solutions, formerly known as GEO Care, a spin-off of GEO Group, has deep roots in the private prison industry. Although the company has shifted and changed numerous times over the last few years, CCS currently runs seven “treatment” facilities in Florida, Texas and South Carolina, including five mental health facilities and two civil commitment centers. This report’s in-depth analysis of GEO Group, GEO Care and now Correct Care Solutions’ involvement in operating mental health hospitals and civil commitment centers exposes serious concerns.

Senate passes disability bill, adds privatization provision

Source: Associated Press, March 18, 2016

The Kansas Senate has passed a bill intended to define and streamline the process for a shared living program for adults with mental illness and developmental disabilities. The Wichita Eagle reports that the bill passed by a vote of 31-5 after hours of debate Thursday. Before the bill was passed, a provision was added that would require the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services to seek legislative approval before privatizing facilities. The agency says the bill would enable it to re-establish a shared living program that allows adults with developmental disabilities or other disorders to be placed with a care provider. The agency temporarily suspended the program in October.

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Kansas Senate disability bill sparks privatization fears
Source: Bryan Lowry, Wichita Eagle, March 17, 2016

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services says that a piece of legislation will enable the agency to re-establish a program for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities. However, some lawmakers say the bill would enable the agency to privatize facilities and avoid legislative oversight. SB 422 eventually passed by a vote of 31-5 Thursday after hours of debate, but only after it was amended to include a provision that would require the agency to seek legislative approval before privatizing facilities. … Several lawmakers alleged that the bill was actually meant to enable the agency to privatize facilities. Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, scrutinized a clause in the bill that she argued would give the agency broad powers to privatize. Angela De Rocha, the agency’s spokeswoman, said that lawmakers were misreading the bill. She said the bill was meant to enable the agency to license subcontractors for the shared living program. She said the fact that the subcontractors weren’t licensed by the agency caused the moratorium to go into effect in the first place. Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, brought an amendment to restrict KDADS from privatizing without legislative approval, easing the minds of lawmakers who had concerns about the bill and allowing it to pass.

Editorial: Fix formula for privatization

Source: Lansing State Journal, February 19, 2017

The State of Michigan has nearly 1,700 privatization contracts. Undoubtedly, many of them are beneficial for taxpayers and for government. But not all privatization makes sense, which is why there is a process by which the Civil Service Commission determines whether privatization will result in significant savings. What happens, however, if the state’s system of vetting privatization opportunities relies on faulty math? In the case of several Michigan contracts, the projected savings don’t even come close to the actual realized savings. A Lansing State Journal analysis of 23 privatization deals approved last year showed the state saved nearly $61 million less than projected. That’s because the current formula is flawed, allowing agencies to include savings on retirement debt. The catch, however, is that debt must be paid whether the jobs remain with the state or move to a contractor. … The cost of the state’s pension and health care liabilities is a problem independent of privatization of services. But the fact that current calculations tip the scales in favor of privatization is troubling. The state, and Civil Service Commission by proxy, must make decisions in the best interests of taxpayers on the issue of privatization. That review must begin with a formula that makes sense – one that acknowledges long-term retirement costs don’t go away when state jobs do.  Privatization is not bad. Neither are state-worker jobs. It’s incumbent on the state to use clear, defensible metrics to determine which option is best in each circumstance.  The current formula is broken. Michigan must fix it.

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Michigan’s privatization savings overstated
Source: Justin A. Hinkley, Lansing State Journal, February 17, 2017

State guidelines on privatization allow agencies to count savings on retirement debt that has to be paid whether or not the jobs are outsourced. If that debt were not factored in, a State Journal analysis showed three contracts OK’d by the state Civil Service Commission last year — worth more than $92 million — would never have been approved because they didn’t actually save enough money to meet the commission’s threshold for privatization. Those contracts affected 265 state-worker jobs. The State Journal analysis was based on what Roland Zullo, a University of Michigan researcher working with state-employee unions on this issue, said is the more accurate calculation.

Using Zullo’s method, the State Journal analysis showed the 23 privatization deals approved last year saved nearly $61 million less than what state officials reported, though most contracts still would have saved enough taxpayer money to be approved. No state employees were laid off through privatization last year; many of the 23 deals approved last year were re-analyses of previously approved outsourcing. That’s because, when Civil Service compares the cost of state employees against the cost of a potential contract, it includes on the state employees’ tab what the government pays into its employee pension system, which was closed to new hires starting in 1997. However, as the Senate Fiscal Agency explicitly warned in a 2013 white paper, the debt to that system “must be funded regardless of whether employees remain directly hired by State or local government, or privatization occurs.” Currently, Civil Service guidelines claim privatization saves departments about 50 cents of retirement costs for every $1 in state employee wages. Zullo says the true savings is only 9 cents on the dollar, the amount the state chips in to employees’ 401(k) plans and retiree health care. Only one employee affected by the 23 deals approved in 2016 was on a pension plan. …

Opinion: Privatization does not Work
Source: Ron Bieber, Michigan AFL-CIO President, Detroit News, March 9, 2016

Six years ago, Republicans swept into Lansing after promising to “make government run like a business.” It was a catchy slogan. The trouble is, we as voters didn’t do such a great job asking hard questions about what running government like a business actually meant. For Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-controlled Legislature, it meant privatizing vital public services in our schools, prisons and a state-run home for veterans. The goal of privatization, we were told, was to save taxpayers’ money. The truth is the state’s two biggest experiments with privatization have been huge failures.

First came the prison food contract with Aramark. The trouble started when the Legislature rigged the bidding process by giving Aramark a do-over after its initial bid came in too high, allowing it to low-ball competitors. The state approved Aramark’s contract even though it had a terrible track record — including a prison riot in Kentucky and rampant contract violations in Florida. Then came a steady stream of horrible news. There were persistent food shortages, maggots repeatedly found in food, drug smuggling, sexual contact with inmates and even a murder-for-hire plot. …

What happened at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans was even worse. In 2011, the governor and Legislature privatized 150 nursing assistant jobs and awarded the contract to J2S, a company founded by two brothers — Tim and Chris Frain — who had no background in health care. The complaints of chronic staff shortages started immediately. One former J2S employee told a local TV station “there definitely were times where a member would sit in their urine or feces for extended periods of time because we were shorthanded.” A scathing report from the auditor general last month found employees routinely failed to respond to alarm checks, and J2S failed to investigate complaints of abuse and neglect. …

Unfortunately, Lansing Republicans might not have learned their lesson yet. Right now lawmakers are considering legislation to privatize mental health services, making it harder for people to get access to needed treatments and medications. This would be a big handout to insurance companies, and it’s another privatization disaster waiting to happen.

Lynchburg lawmaker suggests privatization to keep training center open

Source: Tim Saunders, WDBJ, January 19, 2016

The state agency that operates all of Virginia’s training centers is moving away from institutional care and shifting funds to private groups that provide home-based care.  Some training centers in other parts of the state have already shut down. State Senator Steve Newman has proposed legislation to slow the process of closing CTVC. … Newman has introduced a budget amendment that would prevent money from being shifted away from the Central Virginia Training Center. He also wants the state to consider partnering with a private agency to operate four buildings on the training center property. … Under Newman’s plan the state would retain ownership of the training center, but a private group would be in charge of its day-to-day operations. Some families worry a private operator will cause the level of care to go down. … 212 people live at the Central Virginia Training Center right now, according to a spokesperson for the facility.

Its residents gone, sadness lingers at Summit Park

Source: Robert Brum, Lohud.com, December 22, 2015

… The last residents of the facility Rockland County has operated since 1974 left last week as it prepares to close by Dec. 31. For the past two and a half months I’ve watched as County Executive Ed Day, the Rockland Legislature and the prospective buyer, Shalom Braunstein of Sympaticare, feuded over the demise of an institution families praised for its staff, spacious rooms and high level of care.… But the fate of the sale may have been sealed back in April 2014, when the front-runner to buy Summit Park walked away because of lawsuits filed by a competitor and the CSEA. The competitor, Northern Services Group, also sought to have a rabbinical court intervene.

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CSEA sues to block Summit Park closing
Source: Robert Brum, lohud.com, November 13, 2015

The union representing workers at the Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Care Center has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of Rockland County Executive Ed Day’s efforts to close the ailing facility by Dec. 31. The suit accuses Day of violating the County Charter by moving ahead without approval from the county Legislature. By announcing the impending closure Day is lessening the facility’s value, according to legal papers. It also claims the County Charter would have to be amended to allow the Legislature to close the facility — something it says can only be done through a public referendum. … Summit Park is proceeding toward shutdown under a state-approved closure plan after a private buyer backed out of a $32 million sale at the last minute. Subsequent efforts to restart negotiations collapsed between the buyer — Sympaticare — and the local development corporation handling the sale. …

Summit Park buyer asks lawmakers to get him more time
Source: Robert Brum, lohud.com, October 8, 2015

The man who pulled out of the $32 million deal to buy the Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Care Center told Rockland lawmakers on Wednesday night to step in to give him more time to continue negotiating. … Braunstein said before Wednesday’s meeting of the Rockland County Legislature that his company, Sympaticare, was ready to take over Summit Park’s operations pending the sale “so the county stops the bleeding.” He said such an arrangement, which he called a receivership, would need state Department of Health approval but had been done elsewhere in New York. … Braunstein canceled the deal just hours before he was supposed to have closed on the sale, citing ongoing litigation and claiming the county had not given him what he needed for Sympaticare to take over the ailing facility by Sept. 30. He also said the county had not maintained the facility during the sale process. … The county said it cooperated fully with Braunstein and said Summit Park’s operations remained essentially the same. Day has placed blame for the deal’s collapse squarely on Braunstein, who Day said had more than a year to prepare for the purchase. The county is awaiting approval from the state health board for its closure plan.

Rockland’s Summit Park deal falls through
Source: Robert Brum, lohud.com, October 1, 2015

The sale of Rockland’s troubled Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Care Center, considered crucial to the county’s financial turnaround, fell through at the 11th hour and officials said they intend to close the property at the end of the year. County Executive Ed Day said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon that the planned private buyer, Sympaticare LLC, informed the county Tuesday night that it was terminating the $32 million deal. … A total of 432 positions were set to be abolished at Summit Park, including clerical staff, nurses, pharmacists and physical therapists. Some had been interviewed by Sympaticare about staying with the facility, while others had the possibility of moving into other county positions.

Rockland Lawmakers Take Steps to Protect Summit Park Workers
Source: Baruch Horowitz, Monsey, September 20, 2015

Rockland County Legislators announced they are taking action to protect county workers, patients and residents at Summit Park Hospital And Nursing Care Center, approving several measures designed to help county workers who face layoffs once the center is sold. … A total of 458 people will be affected by the pending sale, including more than 250 who are eligible for retirement, county Personnel Commissioner Joan Silvestri told Legislators Wednesday. … Civil Service rules require positions to be abolished before the process of workforce reduction can occur. Part of the process includes providing information to workers about their possible benefits, including details about pensions, health care and other county job opportunities. Workers have been in a state of limbo not knowing when their jobs might be eliminated as the Rockland County Health Facilities Corp., the local development corporation handling the $32 million deal, works to close the pending sale of Summit Park Hospital, a 57 bed Long Term Acute Care Hospital, and Summit Park Nursing Care Center, a 321-bed nursing care facility with a premier Alzheimer’s Unit. …

As Summit Park hospital sale nears, Rockland workers await word on jobs
Source: Robert Brum, lohud.com, August 28, 2015

Many of the employees, including clerical staff, nurses, pharmacists and physical therapists, are waiting to learn whether they’ll be hired by the Ramapo hospital’s new owner. About 38 workers have “bumping” rights to positions in other county departments, and others likely will opt for retirement. The Rockland County Legislature on Tuesday night could discuss a resolution to abolish a total of 432 positions, most of them represented by the CSEA.

Preliminary audits: County in the black, Summit Park less in the red
Source: Michael Riconda, Rockland Times, August 27, 2015

…At the same time, losses sustained by the facility appear to be diminishing. According to the audit, the facility lost $7.2 million in 2014, down from a $16 million loss in 2013 and a $27 million loss in 2012. The major reason for this appears to be intergovernmental transfer revenue (IGT), money from the state which spiked revenues. … Summit Park’s Hospital and nursing care center have cleared almost all regulatory hurdles for sale, including lawsuits from the Civil Service Employees Association and Northern Services Group, a failed bidder for the facility. According to DeGroat, the county is ready to close the book on the facility and it is expected that the lease will be transferred to Sympaticare sometime within the next year.
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Benton County commissioners consider committee on mental health services

Source: Tyler Richardson, Tri-City Herald, November 3, 2015

Benton County commissioners are considering forming a committee to develop a blueprint for how mental health services will be offered in the Tri-Cities in the future. The move would be another step toward privatizing mental health care, a plan all three commissioners showed support for during a Tuesday meeting. The committee would be comprised of mental health professionals from area service providers, said Commissioner Shon Small. The team would be responsible for coming up with a detailed plan tailored toward serving the needs of area patients. … However, commissioners first want to hold a bicounty meeting with Franklin County officials to see if they are on board. Commissioners from both counties last met over the summer to discuss the issue. Rick Miller, Franklin County commissioner, said he plans to bring up the topic at his board’s meeting Wednesday to gauge if fellow commissioners are interested in privatization.

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Officials tell Benton County that mental health care privatization works for them
Source: Tyler Richardson, Tri-City Herald, October 27, 2015

Officials from across the region spoke Tuesday to Benton County commissioners about how privatizing mental health care is working in their communities. The commissioners have discussed for months the possibility of having a private agency take over providing mental health services, namely crisis response. Benton and Franklin counties now provide mental health services through the bicounty human services department.

Benton County commissioner leads charge to privatize crisis care
Source: Tyler Richardson, Tri-City Herald, May 11, 2015

Tri-City Herald Buy Photo Commissioner Shon Small is leading a charge to privatize mental health services in Benton County, a move that would eliminate the Crisis Response Unit in Kennewick. The county would no longer provide crisis response and other mental health services. Instead, a private agency would create a “one-stop shop” for a range of services.

Maxey school ends

Source: Livingston Daily, October 7, 2015

The start of state government’s 2016 budget year Oct. 1 marked the controversial end of the boys training school in Green Oak, shuttering three state-run juvenile justice facilities and upending of 65 state employee jobs. … Maxey staff worked with judges to reassign the youth to the remaining two state facilities and to independent living facilities, halfway houses and private facilities. … Of the 65 Maxey employees, Wheaton said 19 were laid off, nine retired and 37 were transferred to other state government positions. Eleven of those laid off are eligible for retirement and could still file the necessary paperwork. … AFSCME and other state employee unions question the Legislature’s claims of how much money could be saved, noting that the school routinely costs less to run than the Legislature appropriates and hasn’t been filled to capacity. Funding unemployment benefits for any laid off employees and claims on retirement benefits also would cut into the savings, Ciaramitaro said. …

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Dozens of state-worker jobs at stake in budget proposal
Source: Justin A. Hinkley, Lansing State Journal, April 27, 2015

State worker unions and others are fighting a budget proposal that would eliminate nearly half the state’s publicly run residential juvenile justice slots and put dozens of state jobs at stake.
A state Senate budget bill for the Department of Health & Human Services would close the W.J. Maxey Boys Training School in Whitmore Lake, a 60-bed facility for juvenile offenders ages 12 to 21. The state House and Gov. Rick Snyder would keep the facility open, though they would trim spending to reflect lower-than-expected costs at the facility. …. But that’s simply untrue, argued state Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, the vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee who championed the closure. He mentioned two of the state’s private juvenile justice partners, Spectrum Human Services and Wolverine Human Services, who have facilities similar to Maxey and who, MacGregor said, have signaled a willingness to take on Maxey youth. …. Others — including Ciaramitaro, Burghardt and state Sen. Vincent Gregory, D-Southfield, who serves on the same committees as MacGregor — doubt private facilities can or will pick up the slack. ….

Westchester Medical Center to replace mental health provider

Source: Jane Lerner, lohud.com, September 9, 2015

Westchester Medical Center is seeking a new contractor to provide mental health care just three years after outsourcing the task to a Pennsylvania company. The move leaves the future of nearly 200 mental health workers uncertain. … Liberty did not respond to requests for comment but, in a notice filed with the state Department of Labor, it has warned all 199 of its workers that they will be laid off by Nov. 30. The company cited the expected end of its contract to provide staff for Westchester’s Behavioral Health Center as the cause. … The medical center’s 2012 decision to outsource care at the Behavioral Health Center meant the loss of 150 jobs held by members of the Civil Service Employees Association. The employees included psychiatric social workers, mental-health aides, therapists and clerks.

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Westchester Medical Center plans 150 layoffs, private takeover of Behavioral Health Center
Source: Theresa Juva-Brown, LoHud.com, January 6, 2012

It’s a new year and a new round of layoffs at Westchester Medical Center.

Just weeks after slashing 250 positions across the hospital, the embattled medical center announced Thursday that up to more than half the staff at the Behavioral Health Center could lose their jobs as an outside company takes over direct patient care and treatment….Medical center administrators project to save $4 million a year by partnering with Liberty Healthcare, a Pennsylvania-based health-care delivery company. The medical center will pay Liberty $8.8 million a year under the three-year agreement.

St. Tammany Parish leaders use privatization in battle against mental health crisis

Source: Heath Allen, WDSU, September 1, 2015

Rather than see the critically needed mental health services at Southeast Louisiana Hospital disappear, St. Tammany Parish stepped up. Officials brought in Northlake Behavioral Health System to operate a scaled-back facility until a long-range plan could be developed. That plan is called “Safe Haven” with the hospital at the core. It will create a mental health treatment community bringing a wide range of private sector services, including critical emergency care and long-range help. … Hospital operation will be put out for bid and only buyers intent on operating a psychiatric hospital need apply, officials said. …

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Privatization of Mandeville psychiatric hospital finalized under agreements with Florida company
Source: Kim Chatelain, Times-Picayune, December 03, 2012

In a move designed to save money for the state without diminishing behavioral health care in the region, a Florida-based company on Monday signed agreements to take over operation of Southeast Louisiana Hospital near Mandeville, a state psychiatric facility that has been fixture on the north shore for 60 years. Under the agreement, the state department of Health and Hospitals will give St. Tammany Parish authority to manage all property at Southeast and has signed an agreement to allow Meridian Behavioral Healthcare of Gainesville to operate 58 psychiatric inpatient beds: 42 for youths and 16 for adults. A separate agreement between the parish and Meridian allows the health care company to operate the 58 beds on the Southeast campus.

What Private Prisons Companies Have Done to Diversify in the Face of Sentencing Reform /Corrections Corporation and GEO Group have both invested into offender rehabilitation services

Source: Matt Stroud, Bloomberg, May 12, 2015

…America’s overall prison population has increased by 500 percent over the last 40 years, and the U.S. incarcerates more people than any other country, by far. State and federal authorities began turning to private prison companies in the 1980s to handle overflowing facilities, and today about 8 percent (PDF) of prisoners in the U.S. are housed in privately run prisons. Almost all are run by the two largest providers: Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group…. Both GEO Group and CCA—which last year pulled in a combined $3.3 billion in annual revenue—have taken moves in recent years to diversify into services that don’t involve keeping people behind bars. GEO Group in 2011 acquired Behavioral Interventions, the world’s largest producer of monitoring equipment for people awaiting trial or serving out probation or parole sentences. It followed GEO’s purchase in 2009 of Just Care, a medical and mental health service provider which bolstered its GEO Care business that provides services to government agencies. …. For $36 million in 2013, CCA acquired Correctional Alternatives, a company that provides housing and rehabilitation services that include work furloughs, residential reentry programs, and home confinement…..