A hospital network that announced changes to its collection practices following a published report that accused it of being too aggressive, especially when filing lawsuits for unpaid debts, is being asked to hold off on all collection efforts until its new policies are put into place.
UVA Health had previously announced it would suspend lawsuits that had already been filed and expand the income parameters to allow more people to qualify for charity care, but those policies are only in place for patients who were treated after July 2017. For those who were treated before July 2017, the previous policies are still in effect.
This has created some confusion among patients who aren’t sure if they are still being sued, going to be sued, or not ever going to be sued, according to a published report.
A consumer advocate is calling on UVA Health to suspend all collection efforts until its policies are made clearer.
“It seems like they’re still sorting out details of exactly what their new policy looks like,” said Elaine Poon, managing attorney at the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville, which represents some lower-income UVA patients, in the report. “We want UVA to hold off — to suspend collections until they have a new policy.”
According to the report:
UVA has said little publicly about its new policies almost two months since it announced them, beyond posting a webpage referring to federal poverty guidelines and directing patients to a phone number with an intricate voice menu asking for a “guarantor account number.” Some patients said they didn’t understand what that means.
The report features a number of patients explaining their situations and confusion about how the healthcare network will collect on their debts, or not. One family, for example, is at risk of losing a home to UVA Health for the second time.