Nevada to Pay San Francisco $400k to Settle 'Patient Dumping' Suit

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By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on October 15, 2015 11:29 AM

The State of Nevada has agreed to settle with San Francisco in the amount of $400,000 in a lawsuit over allegations that the Silver state wrongfully bused over psychiatric patients to San Francisco without the funds to pay for their care.

The deal still must be approved by the Nevada Board of Governors and by a similar board sitting in San Francisco. If approved, it will be a welcome close to San Francisco's grievances against Nevada. The issue began in 3013 when it was discovered that as many as 1,000 mentally handicapped or indigent patients had been shipped out of the state to fend for themselves.

Rawson-Neal Hospital "Patient Dumping"

The Sacramento Bee originally revealed in 2008 that Rawson-Neal had systematically been discharging patients -- many of them indigent and mentally disabled -- to out of state destinations. The catch was that the trip was one way, and the patients had no food, water, housing medical treatment, or family waiting for them.

The Bee's report also found that about a third of those patients ended up in California, the majority of which arrived in Los Angeles, the rest in San Francisco. The report won the 2013 George Polk award for journalism excellence, earned its authors a nomination for a Pulitzer, and caused Rawson-Neal to lose its accreditation (which it recently won back).

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said that the practice of patient dumping unfairly takes advantage of the states that provide mental health services when others will not. And before you too quickly credit Rawson-Neal for having invented the practice of exporting the patients who are destitute and mentall ill, Congress had been well aware of it and sought to at least address with heavy breathing in the 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act -- long before Rawson-Neal.

Getting Ready for Battle

It seems that Nevada officials knew that they had a fight coming as they had tucked away $1.9 million dollars to fund the court battle throughout the summer.

But San Francisco is only one of the many destinations where the ejected Rawson-Neal patients can be found. So, it's too early to conclude that Nevada has seen the last of this controversy.

Silver Lining

There is another silver lining to this story and that has to do with Nevada's response: $30 million has been added to the budget to fund mental health services. The hospital also discharged several employees.

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