State Sues 14 Hospitals, including Kadlec and Walla Walla, Over Charity Care
Thursday (February 24) WA State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a lawsuit has been filed against 14 hospitals, including Kadlec and St. Marys in Walla Walla
Suit claims hospitals failed to inform patients and offer charity financial care
The suit has been filed against hospitals that operate under the Providence, Swedish, and Kadlec umbrellas. These include Providence St. Mary's in Walla Walla, Kadlec in Richland as well as Sacred Heart and Holy Family in Spokane
The suit says the following, in part:
"Washington’s charity care law requires all hospitals — for-profit and non-profit, public and private — to forgive some or all of the out-of-pocket cost of essential health care for low-income patients who qualify. The law covers Washingtonians whose household income is at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
Hospitals are required to provide notice of the availability of charity care both verbally and in writing and screen patients for charity care eligibility before attempting to collect payment."
The suit has been filed against hospitals that operate under the Providence, Swedish, and Kadlec umbrellas. These include Providence St. Mary's in Walla Walla, Kadlec in Richland as well as Sacred Heart and Holy Family in Spokane among the 14 listed. Others are in Colville, Everett, Olympia, Centralia, and Chewelah.
The suit says thousands of qualified patients were not told about having their bills reduced or written off. The suit says the facilities violated the Consumer Protection Act by training workers in aggressive payment collection, not telling patients if they qualified for charity care, and sending some 54,000 clients to collection.
AG Ferguson said the 54K accounts alone amounted to some $70 million.The suit says the illegal practices began in 2018, and some still continue to day.
The suit is seeking write-offs for illegal debts as well as refunds (for some clients)
It also says:
"In addition to the $70 million in debt relief and refunds, Ferguson is also seeking millions of dollars in civil penalties. The total number of Consumer Protection Act violations will be determined as the case progresses."
Since the suit was announced Thursday, we have not seen any official response from any of the area hospitals named in the suit. To read more about it, click here.
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