The Charity Care Act specifically requires hospitals to affirmatively screen all patients at or near the time of admission to the hospital to determine whether they are indigent, and to conduct this affirmation screening before demanding payment for services.
On Tuesday, February 20, 2018, Kazerouni Law Group and Hyde & Swigart, along with Mack Mayo of The Law Office of Boyd M. Mayo, PLLC in Spokane, Washington, filed a proposed class action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District Court of Washington on behalf of a class of Washington consumers against Providence Holy Family Hospital and others for violation of, among other things, Washington’s Charity Care Act.
What is the Charity Care Act?
In 1989, the Washington legislature enacted the Charity Care Act and mandated the provision of charity care by all Washington hospitals. The legislature concluded that this is essential to “moderate health care costs and promote access to health care services.” It found that all hospitals must provide charity care in order to ensure access to health care for low-income residents. “Therefore, the legislature intends that charity care requirements and related enforcement provisions for hospitals be explicitly established.”
The law requires hospitals to provide charity care to indigent patients, who are defined as patients with incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. To achieve this end, it specifically requires hospitals to affirmatively screen all patients at or near the time of admission to the hospital to determine whether they are indigent, and to conduct this affirmation screening before demanding payment for services. The Act further prohibits hospital policies or practices which result in a significant reduction in the proportion of indigent patients served by the hospital.
“The failure by hospitals to affirmatively screen Washington residents for Charity Care results in unfair collection practices and unnecessary damages to low-income patients.”
– Abbas Kazerounian
Who is included in the class action?
The proposed class is defined as: “All individuals (or their guardians or representatives) who within the statute of limitations (a) received emergency care medical treatment from Defendants; (b) uninsured or underinsured by insurance or any other third-party source of payment at the time of treatment; and (c) were subject to collections even though Defendants’ account records show no affirmative screening to determine the patient’s eligibility for charity care.”
You can read the full Class Complaint here.
I think this happened to me or I may be a member of the class. What should I do?
If you believe you are a member of the proposed class or this happened to you elsewhere, click here to set up a confidential consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.
Press inquiries may be directed to co-lead counsel Abbas Kazerounian of the Costa Mesa, California-based Kazerouni Law Group, APC.