State claims that halting Wellpath contract could force API to close

In a state response Wednesday to a union lawsuit challenging the sole-source contract to run the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, the Dunleavy administration makes an extreme claim that a forced closure of API is possible if the union prevails.

“On the more-drastic side of the possible-outcome spectrum, an order forcing the state to unwind its contract with Wellpath could result in API’s closure, resulting in the immediate loss of employment for all the union members that ASEA alleges it is trying to protect with this litigation. That state expects to present evidence that API was at serious risk of losing its license to operate prior to Wellpath’s assumption of API’s management,” the state claimed.

The state response says Wellpath played a “critical role” in getting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Joint Commission to make favorable determinations about API operations, preserving federal funding and accreditation.

Health commissioner Adam Crum issued a press release last Friday in which he said Wellpath’s work was vital to the accreditation decision by the Joint Commission.

“Wellpath provided API with timely expertise and technical assistance addressing over 30 Joint Commission citations for failing to meet standards,” the state court filing said. “The Joint Commission accepted these corrective action plans and processes, resulting in API’s reaccreditation. Wellpath provided similar assistance in addressing 15 serious CMS ‘findings,’” the state said.

But the chronology doesn’t line up the way the state claims it does. The Joint Commission inspected API Dec. 14, 2018 and made its last visit on Jan. 29.

The minutes of an API governance meeting on Jan. 8 said “There are currently multiple teams working within API to address all of the findings.”

The contract with Wellpath took effect on Feb. 8.

Dermot Cole2 Comments