•   
  •   
  •   

US Hospital Association Finally Eyes Aggressive Debt Collecting by Its Members

16:46  28 december  2019
16:46  28 december  2019 Source:   thedailybeast.com

Celebration, Florida: How Disney’s ‘Community of Tomorrow’ Became a Total Nightmare

  Celebration, Florida: How Disney’s ‘Community of Tomorrow’ Became a Total Nightmare When Cookie Kelly first heard about Celebration, Florida, Walt Disney’s master-planned town just a stone’s throw away from Magic Kingdom, she was drawn to it like Pinocchio to Pleasure Island. The highly municipal-coded hamlet, built in 1995 to look like 1955, was billed as an antidote to the chain-ridden sprawl of suburban America. In Celebration, there were no fast-casual franchises, no hulking commercial trucks, no visual reminders of poverty. Every lawn was cut to code; every fence was freshly painted. The local school was basically Summerhill. Litter had a lifespan of 15 seconds.

The hospital said its new approach would provide assistance to those with insurance, but it declined For instance, if a court orders a defendant to pay interest, would the hospital actually not collect it? Hospital officials declined to talk about specific cases. Barrett said Tuesday afternoon that she had

Debt Collector Is Faulted for Tough Tactics in Hospitals . In its annual report, the company said it was cooperating with the attorney general to resolve the issues in Minnesota. Hospitals have long hired outside collection agencies to pursue patients after they have left hospital facilities.

The American Hospital Association, the biggest hospital trade group, says it promotes “best practices” among medical systems to treat patients more effectively and improve community health.

  Hospital Association Finally Eyes Aggressive Debt Collecting by Its Members © iStockphoto/Getty Images

But the powerful association has stayed largely silent about hospitals suing thousands of patients for overdue bills, seizing homes or wages and even forcing families into bankruptcy.

Atlantic Health System, whose CEO is the AHA’s chairman, Brian Gragnolati, has sued patients for unpaid bills thousands of times this year, court records show, including a family struggling to pay bills for three children with cystic fibrosis.

Welcome to the Falcon Hospital. Please Take a Number.

  Welcome to the Falcon Hospital. Please Take a Number. DOHA, Qatar — As soon as the clinic opens, the patients and their guardians begin streaming in. In the waiting room, the mood is a mix of anxiety and ennui. Some visitors pace the marble floors. Others sit on couches, absent-mindedly leafing through magazines. The most frustrated press forward to harass the overworked receptionists, demanding to be seen at once. The dozen or so falcons? Don’t worry. They are supposed to be here. This morning isIn the waiting room, the mood is a mix of anxiety and ennui. Some visitors pace the marble floors. Others sit on couches, absent-mindedly leafing through magazines. The most frustrated press forward to harass the overworked receptionists, demanding to be seen at once.

Hospitals with greater financial need are more likely to aggressively pursue debt collection Researchers searched 2017 court records in Virginia to identify completed warrant-in- debt lawsuits Hospital characteristics and patient employer data were collected . The investigators identified 20

The AHA asked its members to review their debt collection policies. Many hospital executives were surprised by what they found and decided to revamp their practices, Wade said. A handful of states subsequently passed laws either restricting how nonprofit hospitals can collect on debts or dictating

AHA, which represents nearly 5,000, mostly nonprofit hospitals and medical systems, has issued few guidelines on such aggressive practices or the limited financial assistance policies that often trigger them.

In a year when multiple health systems have come under fire for suing patients, from giants UVA Health System and VCU Health to community hospitals in Oklahoma, it has made no concrete move to develop an industry standard.

“There could be a broader message coming out of hospital leadership” about harsh collections, said Erin Fuse Brown, a law professor at Georgia State University who studies hospital billing. “It seems unconscionable if they are claiming to serve the community and then saddling patients with these financial obligations that are ruinous.”

Hilary Duff slams paparazzi for following her and her children

  Hilary Duff slams paparazzi for following her and her children Hilary Duff slams paparazzi for following her and her childrenFinally, she posted about the experience on her Instagram Story, telling followers (via Page Six): "Here I am just trying to get around with both my kids, and I have paparazzi following me everywhere I go. Two grown men. Three of them, actually, one of them is running away across the street. Just following me and my kids to every location I go to.

1. Law firms that collect medical debt have to “educate the client about the reality of the situation . Discussions with clients are often harder than with the debtors . Most often, hospitals and doctors give us instructions to sue, because they aren’t profitable and need to collect every penny they can.

A debt collector may contact family members , friends or business associates , but only to find out your address, phone number and where you work. A debt collector may not use threats of violence or harm, obscene language or repeated phone calls to collect a debt .

Nonprofit hospitals are required to provide “community benefit,” including charity care in return for billions of dollars in government subsidies they get through tax exemptions. But the rules are lax and vague, experts say, especially for bill forgiveness and collections.

The Affordable Care Act requires nonprofit hospitals to have a financial assistance policy for needy patients but offers no guidance about its terms.

“There is no requirement” for minimum hospital charity under federal law, said Ge Bai a health policy professor at Johns Hopkins. “You design your own policy. And you can make it extremely hard to qualify.”

Practices vary sharply, a review of hospital policies and data from IRS filings show. Some hospitals write off the entire bill for a patient from a family of four making up to $77,000 a year. Others give free care only if that family makes less than $26,000.

Report: Antonio Brown called Ben Roethlisberger derogatory term when QB tried to enforce no-music policy

  Report: Antonio Brown called Ben Roethlisberger derogatory term when QB tried to enforce no-music policy ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler spoke with Steelers players and other sources about Brown’s unpredictable behavior in Pittsburgh, and that included one particular locker room exchange between Brown and Roehtlisberger. A former Steelers player told Fowler that Roethlisberger tried to enforce a no-music policy in the locker room, to which Brown replied, “F— you, cracker.”Former Pittsburgh players said Brown would usually work things out with his teammates, but his outlandish personality became exhausting at times. From the sound of it, the way he acts on social media is the same way he behaved at work.

Public hospitals can be among the most aggressive in collecting debts from poor patients, not only garnishing their wages, but More than a century ago, Alabama enshrined a basic protection in the state’s constitution shielding its poorest citizens from being forced to pay debts they couldn’t afford.

Founded in 1919, the Connecticut Hospital Association (CHA) represents 27 acute care hospitals and many health-related organizations. As part of its core advocacy function, CHA maintains databases which contain descriptive information about Connecticut’s hospitals .

The law does not substantially limit harsh collections, either. IRS regulations require only that nonprofit hospitals make “reasonable efforts” to determine if patients qualify for financial assistance before suing them, garnishing their wages and putting liens on their homes.

Gaping differences in both collections and financial assistance show up in the policies of health systems represented on AHA’s board of trustees.

This year, AHA board chairman Gragnolati’s Atlantic Health System, in northern New Jersey, sued patients for unpaid bills more than 8,000 times, court records show.

Atlantic Health sued Robert and Tricia Mechan of Maywood, N.J., to recover $7,982 in unpaid bills for treatment of their son Jonathan at the system’s Morristown Medical Center.

Three of the Mechans’ four children have cystic fibrosis, a chronic lung disease, including Jonathan, 18. Tricia Mechan works two jobs — full time as a manager at Gary’s Wine & Marketplace and part time at Lowe’s — to try to pay doctor and hospital bills that pile up even with insurance.

Coping with loss of hospital, rural town realizes they don't need one

  Coping with loss of hospital, rural town realizes they don't need one It’s been about a year since the hospital in Fort Scott, Kan., closed.Two-year-old Taelyn’s brown eyes grow round and her tiny hand reaches out. But, first, Self makes sure she opens her mouth wide and he peers down. Behind him sits another staff member ― a medical scribe. Self’s scribe gives him the ability to “focus on people,” rather than toggling between a computer screen and the patient. It’s a new perk he didn’t have when he worked at Mercy Hospital.

“I have bill collectors call me all the time,” Tricia Mechan said. “You’re asking me for more, and all I’m doing is trying to get the best care for my children. I didn’t ask to have sick children.”

She closed a savings account and borrowed money to settle Jonathan’s bill for $6,000. Another son with cystic fibrosis, Matthew, owes Atlantic Health $4,200 and is paying it off at $25 a month, she said.

Marna Borgstrom, CEO of Yale New Haven Health, also sits on AHA’s board. Yale almost never sues families like the Mechans.

“I have not signed off on a legal action since 2015” against a patient, Patrick McCabe, the system’s senior vice president of finance, said in an interview. “People are coming to us when they are at their most vulnerable, and we truly believe we need to work with them and not create any additional stress that can be avoided.”

Yale has treated Nicholas Ruschmeyer, 30, a Vermont ski mountain manager, for recurring cancer. He has been careful to maintain insurance, but a few years ago the hospital performed a $12,000 genetic test that wasn’t covered.

“Yale completely absorbed the cost,” said his mother, Sherrie Ruschmeyer. Yale is “wonderful to work with, not at all aggressive,” she said.

Atlantic Health bars families from receiving financial assistance if they have more than $15,000 in savings or other assets. Yale never asks about savings. Even families who own homes without a mortgage qualify if their income is low enough.

Zac Efron was airlifted to hospital after contracting potentially life-threatening illness: Report

  Zac Efron was airlifted to hospital after contracting potentially life-threatening illness: Report Zac Efron was reportedly airlifted out of Papua New Guinea with a potentially deadly illness while shooting his new adventure series, "Killing Zac Efron."The Australian Sunday Telegraph reports the 32-year-old "Baywatch" star became sick with what's believed to have been typhoid or a similar bacterial infection while filming the show which follows his travels "off the grid" in the jungle for 21 days "with nothing but basic gear, a guide partner and a will to survive," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Atlantic Health’s policies including seizing patient wages and bank accounts through court orders to recoup overdue bills. Yale says it does not do this.

In some ways, Atlantic Health’s policies are more generous than those of other systems.

It forgives bills exceeding 30% of a family’s income in many cases, the kind of “catastrophic” assistance some hospitals lack. It also bills many uninsured patients only slightly more than Medicare rates. That’s far less than rates charged by other hospitals in the same situation that are substantially higher than the cost of treatment.

“Atlantic Health System’s billing policy complies with all state and federal guidelines,” said spokesman Luke Margolis. “While we are willing to assist patients no matter their financial situation, those who can pay should do so.”

After a reporter inquired about its practices, Atlantic Health said it “is actively engaged in refining our policies to reflect our patients’ realities.”

AHA also is considering changing its position on billing in the wake of recent reports on aggressive and ruinous hospital practices.

Previously AHA said billing offices should “assist patients who cannot pay,” without giving specifics, and treat them with “dignity and respect.” Queried this month, association CEO Rick Pollack said, “We are reevaluating the guidelines [for collections and financial assistance] to ensure they best serve the needs of patients.”

Kaiser Health News found that University of Virginia Health System sued patients 36,000 times over six years, taking tax refunds, wages and property and billing the uninsured at rates far higher than the cost of care. Richmond-based VCU Health’s physicians group sued patients 56,000 times over seven years, KHN also found.

New Year, Baby! Norman Reedus Shares Rare Photo of Daughter with Diane Kruger in Honor of 2020

  New Year, Baby! Norman Reedus Shares Rare Photo of Daughter with Diane Kruger in Honor of 2020 Norman Reedus Shares Rare Photo of Daughter for New Year'sOn Instagram Wednesday, The Walking Dead star, 50, shared a rare photo of his daughter with girlfriend Diane Kruger showing the actress holding the youngster while standing on a trampoline. With her other hand, Kruger lifted a finger in the direction of the sky.

In Memphis, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare sued patients for unpaid bills more than 8,000 times over five years, ProPublica reported. In South Carolina, hospitals have been taking millions in tax refunds from patients and their families, an examination by The Post and Courier showed.

In response, VCU pledged to stop suing all patients. UVA promised to “drastically” reduce lawsuits, increase financial assistance and consider further steps. Methodist erased debt for 6,500 patients and said it would overhaul its collections rules.

Yale’s less aggressive policies also came in response to journalism — a 2003 Wall Street Journal report on how the system hounded one family. Yale still sends overdue bills to collections, McCabe said. But it balks at the last, drastic step of asking a court to approve seizing income and assets.

For patients with unpaid bills, he said, “if you’re willing to play a game of chicken, you will win.”

Hospitals say they see more and more patients who can’t pay, even with insurance, as medical costs rise, family incomes plateau and out-of-pocket health expenses increase. In particular, they blame widespread high-deductible coverage, which requires patients to pay thousands before the insurance takes over.

“More consumers pay far more with fewer benefits,” Pollack said.

Some states go beyond federal rules for charity care and collections. In California, patients with income of less than $90,000 for a family of four must be eligible for free or discounted care. New Jersey requires Atlantic Health and other systems to give free care to patients from families of four with income less than $51,000.

The National Consumer Law Center, a nonprofit advocacy group, suggests all states adopt that standard for large medical facilities. Its model medical debt law also would require substantial discounts for families of four with income below $103,000 and relief for patients with even higher incomes facing catastrophic bills.

The AHA should consider similar changes in its own guidelines, NCLC attorney Jenifer Bosco said.

“I would be interested in seeing them taking a more active role in creating some standard for hospitals about what’s too much,” she said. “What’s going too far? Given that this is a helping profession, what would be some appropriate industry standards?”

KHN senior correspondent Jordan Rau contributed to this report.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation that is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

John Cena seemingly unfazed by ex-girlfriend Nikki Bella's engagement .
John Cena looked happy at dinner with new girlfriend Shay Shariatzadeh amid news of ex Nikki Bella's engagement to Artem Chiqvintsev.John Cena was seemingly unfazed by the recent news of ex-girlfriend Nikki Bella's engagement to "Dancing with the Stars" pro Artem Chiqvintsev and instead, couldn't have looked happier with his new lady love, Shay Shariatzadeh.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks

Topical videos:

usr: 3
This is interesting!