The collection practices at a non-profit hospital accused of being too aggressive in filing lawsuits against individuals with unpaid debts have caught the attention of the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee who now wants answers about the organization’s billing practices.
Sen. Chuck Grassley [R-Iowa] yesterday sent a letter to the University of Virginia Health System after reading reports of “relentless debt collection efforts,” by the network and other non-profit hospitals. A number of published reports have spotlighted the number of lawsuits filed by healthcare organizations seeking to recover unpaid debts. Hospitals in Virginia, Oklahoma, New York, Tennessee, and Maryland have all been accused of being too aggressive with their collection efforts. In response, many of the hospitals have announced plans to no longer file lawsuits against individuals with unpaid debts and to increase the thresholds for individuals who can qualify to receive charity care.
The Washington Post accused the University of Virginia Health System of suing too many former patients, after publishing that the hospital network filed 36,000 lawsuits seeking to recover $106 million in unpaid debts during a six-year period.
Sen. Grassley asked to see a copy of the hospital’s policy for placing debts with third-party collection agencies, its policy for seeking “judicial remedies” such as judgments, and how the hospital determines debts are accurate before taking any steps to collect on the debt, among other questions.
The letter also sought information on the hospital’s pricing, expressing concerns “about how patients’ hospital bills get so high in the first place.”