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Advocates say millions being wasted at W.Va. psychiatric hospitals through unnecessary confinement

By Erin Beck, for The Times West Virginian

CHARLESTON, W.Va. –  Disability rights advocates say that state-owned psychiatric hospitals in West Virginia are confining patients found not guilty by reason of mental illness for years after those patients are well, wasting millions that could be used reducing the need for inpatient psychiatric care in the first place.

“It’s a major civil rights violation for these people,” said  Jeremiah Underhill, legal director at Disability Rights of West Virginia, “and it’s a major money drain for the whole mental health system.”

In September of 2017, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services stripped Sharpe Hospital, a state-owned psychiatric hospital in Weston, of its permission to accept Medicare and Medicaid, saying that hospital officials were failing to document in treatment plans that they were properly caring for patients. Earlier this month, officials at the state Department of Health and Human Resources announced that Sharpe Hospital had regained Medicare/Medicaid certification from federal health officials. …

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