Austin supported living center keeps Medicaid money

Earlier this year, state investigators sent a clear message to Austin’s institution for people with disabilities: Stop violating federal rules by June 17 or risk lose millions in federal money. June 17 came. The center only partially complied. And it didn’t lose its money. It was a typical response to a routine threat. Since 2009, investigators have issued that same warning to Texas’ 13 state supported living centers more than 50 times, giving them 90 days to fix problems. They have not pulled the trigger once.

Living center critics suggest that’s because those institutions are both operated and regulated by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, creating a conflict of interest that keeps the state from punishing itself for inadequate treatment at the centers, even when it leads to patient deaths or severe injuries. In February, a man died at the Austin center after staffers ignored his worsening medical condition.

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