Las Vegas Sun

December 21, 2014

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More beds planned for psychiatric patients in Las Vegas

More hospital beds are ahead for psychiatric patients in Las Vegas, after federal officials approved the governor's request to double the Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rate for mental health treatment, officials said Thursday.

Gov. Brian Sandoval had asked the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to hike the Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rate from $460 a day to $944 a day. With the approval on Wednesday, Valley Hospital said it will add a 48-bed behavioral health unit by December.

"This substantial increase in the Medicaid reimbursement rate will help relieve pressure from emergency rooms and state facilities and most importantly, guarantee more resources for those who are in need of care," Sandoval Chief of Staff Mike Willden said in a statement.

Valley Hospital spokeswoman Gretchen Papez called the reimbursement rate increase crucial to her hospital's ability to open a psychiatric care unit.

Willden noted the reimbursement increase was among recommendations from the Behavioral Health and Wellness Council, an 18-member panel that Sandoval appointed last December to review patient-dumping complaints stemming from reports that patients at the state's Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas were given one-way bus tickets to California and other states.

The increase is also expected to relieve crowding at other hospitals that complain that mentally ill patients clog emergency room facilities.

Rawson-Neal is the only state adult psychiatric hospital in southern Nevada, a region home to about 2 million people. It opened in 2006 with 190 beds.

Green aide Mac Bybee didn't immediately respond Thursday to messages from The Associated Press.

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