The Utah Department of Health will not renew its Medicaid contract with Hidden Hollow Development Training Center, an intermediate care facility for the mentally retarded in Orem. One hundred percent of the patients are Medicaid-funded.
Criminal wrongdoings are not suspected at Hidden Hollow."However, Hidden Hollow has a long history of non-compliance with federal Medicaid regulations, especially active treatment," said Allan Elkins, director of the Bureau of Facility Review. "Active treatment, special developmental programming, is the key federal requirement of all intermediate- care facilities for the mentally retarded." He said problems also exist with basic patient care.
Elkins said that while the care at the facility is not life-threatening, "the quality of the treatment programs still remains too far below federal standards to justify allowing the facility to stay in the Medicaid program."
Although Hidden Hollow's contract will expire May 31, Medicaid rules allow the owner to ask for a formal hearing that would automatically extend the Medicaid contract to a maximum of another four months to allow for the hearing.
If the facility owner chooses not to appeal the non-renewal, Medicaid will continue to pay for the care of all 41 adult male clients at the facility until June 30.
Elkins said the state has received verbal indication that center owners will appeal the non-renewal notice.
"I have consulted with an attorney and since everyone who has made an appeal has won, I think we will (appeal) too," said Dale Goodwin, facility owner. "All of the intermediate-care facilities for the mentally retarded in the state have been threatened with closure."
Elkins said Goodwin has his facts wrong.
"While a number of facilities in the past have been cited for not having active treatment and some did receive notices of termination, but they were later rescinded after a follow-up visit showed they had come into compliance," he said. There is only one other facility in the system of 13 that has received notice of a potential termination, "but they will receive a follow-up survey as Hidden Hollow did."
The health official added that, "If relocation (of Hidden Hollow residents) is necessary, the extra 30 days will allow the orderly and appropriate placement of each person."
Elkins said his staff has conducted eight surveys or follow-up visits to Hidden Hollow in two years and have given the facility repeated chances to meet standards and to stay in compliance.
A March survey uncovered non-compliance with 23 standards of participation, including active treatment. The most recent survey, concluded May 12, found non-compliance with 18 standards of participation - again including active treatment.
Elkins said if clients must be relocated, the facility will have primary responsibility for determining appropriate placements. The state will assist with the relocations.