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October 4, 2013

Feds pull estimated $20 million in Riverview funding

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has decided to terminate federal funding for the Riverview Psychiatric Center, alleging the state hospital in Augusta continues not to meet federal guidelines.

Mary Mayhew, commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, told the Kennebec Journal the state will appeal the decision, which could result in the loss of up to $20 million in federal funding.

That federal funding represents more than half of the hospital's $36 million annual operating budget, the newspaper reported, adding that if the appeal fails, Riverview might have to scale back its operations or pass on the tab for uncovered services to Maine taxpayers.

In August, the Legislature passed an emergency bill in an effort to address CMS's concerns about staffing and other operational issues at Riverview. The bill added 14 new mental health workers to a 32-bed mental health unit inside the Maine State Prison in Warren to handle some Riverview patients that would be sent there. At that time, Mayhew said she was "optimistic" the state's improvement efforts would pass muster with CMS.

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