Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that, as a result of his lawsuit, St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma and seven other CHI Franciscan hospitals will forgive as much as $20 million in debt, pay $2.22 million in refunds, pay the Attorney General’s Office $2.46 million, and rehabilitate the credit of thousands of patients who qualified for charity care between 2012 and 2017 but did not receive it.
Said Ferguson: “Medical debt is one of the leading reasons why families get trapped in poverty,” Ferguson said. “Hospitals are required to inform low-income patients about the availability of charity care. St. Joseph failed to live up to its duty, and imposed obstacles on vulnerable Washingtonians trying to access affordable care. Today’s resolution rights a wrong committed against thousands of patients across Washington.”
The Attorney General’s Office anticipates that several thousand patients will receive automatic debt relief, totaling as much as $20 million.
The AG’s office reports that CHI Franciscan entered into a legally enforceable agreement to reform its charity care practices across all eight of its acute care hospitals. Attorney General Ferguson sued St. Joseph Medical Center, but the resolution involves charity care reforms for eight CHI Franciscan hospitals and provides restitution for patients withheld charity care at all eight hospitals.
The post continues: “So far, at least 5,451 patients have been identified who will receive automatic refunds totaling $2.22 million. In addition, the Attorney General’s Office anticipates that several thousand patients will receive automatic debt relief, totaling as much as $20 million.”
Further, the Washington AG’s office states: “An additional third-party review will screen an estimated 7,000 uninsured patients who received care at a CHI Franciscan hospital between 2012 and 2017 for charity-care eligibility. These individuals owe approximately $26 million. Once charity-care eligible patients are identified, CHI Franciscan must forgive any unpaid medical bills. The Attorney General’s Office estimates that CHI Franciscan will provide up to $20 million in automatic debt forgiveness to thousands of patients burdened by debt as a result of its unlawful conduct.”
According to QFox 13: “Cary Evans, vice president for communications and government affairs for CHI Franciscan, St. Joseph’s parent company, released the following statement in response to Ferguson’s announcement:”
“As a non-profit, charitable organization our mission emphasizes human dignity and social justice. Last year, we cared for 2.7 million patients and saw 324,611 emergency visits. We provided $25 million in charity in 2018 alone. Neither the AG, nor our records, indicate any patient who applied for charity care was ever denied if they qualified. Out of an abundance of caution, we are exceeding the requirements of state law and providing charity compensation to patients who may be in most need, even if they never applied for charity care or did not actually qualify at the time of service.”
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