By Kyung Lah, CNN
A mentally ill patient says accuses the state of Nevada of mistreatment. He says they shipped him to California to avoid paying his medical bills.
David Theisen never planned to live in a cramped San Francisco low-income rental. He never planned to be here at all.
"Said I was going to commit suicide, said I had a knife," said Theisen.
That was the call he made to Nevada Emergency Services three years ago. Living in Las Vegas, he was broke, jobless and homeless. He ended up at the Rawson Neal Psychiatric Center where medical records show his doctor noted Theisen was "depressed" and "suicidal."
When Theisen said he wanted to live anywhere but Vegas, "A young woman suggested San Francisco."
Reporter: "Why did she suggest San Francisco?"
"I don't know, because I explained that's what I was doing, I was a cook, I wanted a place that had a bunch of restaurants, things like that and she just mentioned it, I think she was trying to be helpful, saying 'Well, San Francisco has got a lot of restaurants.' 'Oh really,' I hadn't even thought of it until then," he said.
The staff gave Theisen five bags of snacks, directions to a San Francisco homeless shelter, and sent him packing on a Greyhound bus to the city where he knew nobody, 560 miles away.
His doctors in Nevada? He says he never heard from them again.
Reporter: "Did you feel like you were the first person they had done this with?"
"Hell, are you kidding? I think it's a fairly common practice. It's known," said Theisen.
It's called "Greyhound therapy," and bus patients to another state and out of your state budget. Theisen's one-way ticket cost just $85 and far cheaper than actually treating him.
"I think it's reprehensible," said David Herrera.
Herrera is San Francisco's city attorney.
"It's been urban myth or urban legend for decades that this kind of conduct was occurring but this is the first instance in which I'm aware where we've been able to document a state supported practice, that was not only encouraged but facilitated by state actors," said Herrera.
The city attorney estimates 1,500 patients were bused out of this one hospital in Nevada, and 500 of them came to the state of California. San Francisco's cost? The city says $500,000 and counting.
San Francisco has filed a class action lawsuit against the state of Nevada, demanding it pay the city for taking care of the 24 patients bused here over a five year period. The city says Nevada should also pay back the numerous other cities across the southwest it has dumped patients in.
The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services admits to CNN that there were 10 instances where staff did not confirm sufficient shelter and services for transferred patients, but it maintains Nevada's "client back to home communities" program was properly conducted.
Theisen's life has improved since he arrived in his new city. San Francisco subsidizes his room and he still has $100 for food each month. But even he says it's Nevada who should foot the bill.
"They should, they really should. They shipped me here because they wanted to get rid of me they should be responsible for me," said Theisen.