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By Eric Heinz
Several former employees of Dual Diagnostics, Inc., which does business as Sovereign Health in San Clemente, claimed they have not been paid in almost two weeks. The employees said they have been waiting on their final check and current employees are waiting to be paid after a “glitch” in the payroll system.
Sovereign Health is a large corporation that provides behavioral health treatment services and is typically reimbursed for those services through clients’ health insurance plans.
Sovereign officials said the company will get everyone what they are due, but some people said they couldn’t wait for that undetermined pay date because they were facing eviction notices. The former employees said they would not speak on the record because they didn’t want to face any potential retaliation, though they no longer have a position with the company as of late April.
“The payroll delay stems from delayed insurance reimbursement related to a change in billing vendors and from cash flow interruptions related to external forces,” Sovereign stated in responses to questions emailed by the San Clemente Times. “The last paychecks were issued on April 17, and that was for employees who are paid on the 15th and last day of each month. The late paycheck was for employees who are paid bi-weekly. Our Finance Department has been working feverishly to address cash flow interruptions in order to pay employees as soon as possible.”
According to emails the former Sovereign employees provided to the San Clemente Times, Sovereign Health has been dealing with payroll issues since at least late March. Each email that followed into April said they were dealing with issues from a new payroll software and that it wasn’t related to any lawsuits or other intervention.
As far as company-provided health insurance options for its employees, Sovereign said it has been looking into alternative plans it once provided.
“Implementation of these new plans (canceling insurance) has been delayed,” the email stated. “To remove this delay and to ensure access to affordable coverage, Sovereign has determined that it would be in the best interest of both our staff and the company to cancel implementation of company-sponsored, employee-benefit plans. This action will release those who enrolled in the proposed benefit plan to seek coverage from other sources including State Exchanges.”
By law, companies that have more than 50 employees are required to provide some kind of option for health insurance to its employees. Sovereign Health did not disclose how many employees it has on its payroll.
“We hire new employees on a daily basis,” Sovereign officials stated in an email when asked for that number.
Sovereign Health has been the subject of various investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) through reports regarding its practices of housing patients and billing insurance companies large amounts related to its clients’ treatment.
“The reputation of Sovereign Health was defamed by the ‘raid,’ and has affected patients enrolling into our treatment program,” officials stated in an email. “Sovereign Health’s ability to grow has suffered and the livelihoods of hundreds of employees and the welfare of their families has been affected by the FBI ‘raid.’”
Officials said the payroll glitch affected employees in other states as well. Sovereign Health operates facilities throughout the U.S.