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US hospital chain filed lawsuits against 19,000 patients

15 minutes. The US hospital chain, Community Health Systems (CHS), filed some 19,000 lawsuits against patients for unpaid bills during the pandemic.

As reported by CNN, the company took patients to court for bills ranging from $ 201 to $ 162,000.

CHS has 84 concentrated hospitals, mostly in the south of the country, although they extend from Alaska to Florida.

According to the news network, which had access to court documents on these cases in the 16 states where the company operates, most of the patients did not hire a lawyer or even litigate, with which the judges have been ruling in favor of the company almost “by default”.

In certain states, the defendants added attorneys’ fees to the debt owed to the hospital chain. In some cases, the subsidiaries of this conglomerate seized patients’ payrolls as soon as there was a ruling in their favor.

Patient advocates warned that these types of tactics can leave low-income patients in financial ruin, especially since the lawsuits were filed amid the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

“I can’t think of anything worse than a hospital system that may be suing patients for their medical bills amid a pandemic and recession,” National Patient Advocacy Foundation (NPAF) spokeswoman Caitlin Donovan told CNN.

Financial results

According to the channel, CHS made $ 511 million in net income in 2020, compared to 4 years in a row of previous annual losses.

These financial results led to the directors of this company being awarded premiums of millions of dollars, said CNN, which had access to data from the US Securities Market Commission (SEC).

One of the reasons for these good results is that it benefited from the bailout approved in March 2020 by Congress. It received $ 705 million in aid from the federal government, and other state and local assistance programs.

In a statement published by CNN on the lawsuits, the network argued that its hospitals have taken these measures with “a small fraction” of the patients they treat each year. It maintains that they work to provide assistance to those who cannot afford to pay their debts to their centers.

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