A cottage at Trinity, in Warm Springs (Randolph County)
The Alaska Medicaid
program has suspended Trinity Behavioral Health
in Warm Springs from its Medicaid program, Deputy Director Stacy B. Toner
tells the Times.
Toner said the agency was "required under our regulations to take this action based on the State of Arkansas suspending the agency from their Medicaid program."
The juvenile inpatient health care facility, owned by Ted Suhl,
has accommodated patients from Alaska's Department of Health and Social Services behavioral health division since 2002, when the facility was called The Lord's Ranch. It has been named Trinity Behavioral Health since 2006.
Toner said a clinician has been sent to Trinity to assist in transition for the 10 Alaskan children living there. (There are about 90 children total there.) She said they must be out by Nov. 13. The state Department of Human Services notified Suhl's businesses Maxus Inc., doing business as Arkansas Counseling Associates, on Oct. 7 that it would suspend Medicaid payments for patients in 30 days.
DHS spokesperson Amy Webb
said that DHS is still working on transitioning Maxus and Trinity patients to other providers.
Coincidentally — or not — DHS received an emailed inquiry from Alaska's Medicaid program on Oct. 2 asking DHS to verify that Trinity was "still in good standing with no adverse actions taken against it." That was the day a deputy director at DHS pleaded guilty to bribery involving mental health companies
, later identified as Trinity and Maxus.
Toner declined to answer whether it had gotten wind of the U.S. attorney's bribery investigation. However, internal emails provided the Times
in response to an FOI request show DHS employees were still debating what to tell Alaska on Oct. 8. David Griffin
, a deputy director in DHS' Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education, emailed DHS lawyer Mark White
to notify him of Alaska's inquiry and saying, "The license, at this time, is in good standing and that would be our standard response. However, I don't know if there is anything else we need to do at this time." No response from White was included in the FOI materials.
Suhl has appealed the suspensions.