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Loss of Riverview certification cost state $14M last year

February 27, 2019

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine had to pay $14 million from its Medicaid fund to make up for a federal funding cut to the Riverview Psychiatric Center last year, officials said.

The 92-bed center regained its federal certification Friday, which it had lost in 2013 over deficiencies including excessive use of restraints, use of stun guns and pepper spray, poor record-keeping and medication errors.

Federal regulators had allowed the hospital to continue to receive aid designated for hospitals that serve a large share of Medicaid and uninsured patients amid its lack of certification — but that funding was cut last year, leading to the state’s hefty bill.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services dipped into MaineCare to make up the $14 million difference, department spokeswoman Jackie Farwell said. The state department will withdraw that amount from the $65 million that Maine lawmakers set aside for the center in the state’s budget stabilization fund in 2017. That money was set aside when federal regulators called for the state to repay $51 million in federal aid for the center.

The rest of the money will remain set aside for the center as state and federal regulators review “any outstanding allowances,” said Scott Ogden, a spokesman for Democratic Gov. Janet Mills.

A U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokesman on Feb. 14 told The Associated Press that the review process is ongoing. The spokesman was not able to give an update on the process Tuesday.

Last fall, Maine officials said the center was found to be in “substantial compliance” after a federal review. That review pointed out some lingering issues, however, including a need for improved sprinkler systems and a better system to control potential infections, according to a copy of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services survey provided to the AP.

The center is set to start receiving $20 million in annual Medicare federal aid again now that it’s recertified, Farwell said.