Jun 29, 2019

At hospital nonprofits, lawsuits frequently target former patients

Photo: Darren Kemper/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

Nonprofit hospitals are aggressive about suing patients to collect unpaid bills — in some ways, even more aggressive than their for-profit counterparts.

Driving the news: 36% of Virginia hospitals sued former patients and garnished their wages in 2017, according to a new study. And nonprofit hospitals account for the lion's share of those suits.

  • One hospital in particular — Mary Washington, in Fredericksburg, Va. — sues so many patients that the local court sets aside one morning each month just to hear those cases, NPR reports.

By the numbers: The money is negligible for hospitals but potentially "ruinous" for individual patients, one expert told NPR.

  • On average, garnished wages account for 0.1% of Virginia hospitals' revenues.
  • The average garnished amount is about $2,800, which can put a big dent in workers' checks, though some patients have been sued for more than $10,000.

The other side: Mary Washington told NPR it has to recoup its costs, that it makes many other efforts to contact patients before suing them, and that filing a lawsuit is a way "to open that door of communication so that we can work with them."

From the WSJ's writeup of the same study:

  • "The Trump administration has pushed for aggressive action aimed at nonprofit-hospital monopolies, but was rebuffed by career staff at the U.S. Treasury Department, according to a person familiar with the negotiations."

Go deeper: Nonprofit hospitals increasingly act like for-profit companies

Go deeper

Updates: Cities move to end curfews for George Floyd protests

Text reading "Demilitarize the police" is projected on an army vehicle during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Washington, D.C.. early on Thursday. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Several cities are ending curfews after the protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people led to fewer arrests and less violence Wednesday night.

The latest: Los Angeles and Washington D.C. are the latest to end nightly curfews. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan tweeted Wednesday night that "peaceful protests can continue without a curfew, while San Francisco Mayor London Breed tweeted that the city's curfew would end at 5 a.m. Thursday.

Murkowski calls Mattis' Trump criticism "true and honest and necessary and overdue"

Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Thursday that she agreed with former Defense Secretary James Mattis' criticism of President Trump, calling it "true and honest and necessary and overdue."

Why it matters: Murkowski, who has signaled her discomfort with the president in the past, also said that she's "struggling" with her support for him in November — a rare full-on rebuke of Trump from a Senate Republican.

Facebook to block ads from state-controlled media entities in the U.S.

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Facebook said Thursday it will begin blocking state-controlled media outlets from buying advertising in the U.S. this summer. It's also rolling out a new set of labels to provide users with transparency around ads and posts from state-controlled outlets. Outlets that feel wrongly labeled can appeal the process.

Why it matters: Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of security policy, says the company hasn't seen many examples yet of foreign governments using advertising to promote manipulative content to U.S. users, but that the platform is taking this action out of an abundance of caution ahead of the 2020 election.