- Following a congressional inquiry, Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph, MO, has stopped suing low-income patients over unpaid medical bills, Pro Publica reports.
- The nonprofit hospital, formerly known as Heartland Regional Medical Center, forgave the debt of thousands of patients and implemented a financial assistance program and “medical debt grace period” for patients with outstanding debts.
- Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) launched the investigation in 2014 after Pro Publica and NPR reported aggressive tactics by the hospital to collect payment from poor patients.
The NPR and Pro Publica investigation turned up stories like that of drill operator Keith Herie, who had about $20,000 in wages garnished over eight years. At the time of the story, he still owed $26,000, in part due to interest.
In response to Hill pressures, Mosaic added personnel to help patient navigate the financial assistance process and extended its four-statement bill cycle to six. The hospital also instituted a three-month debt forgiveness period from October through December of last year, and lowered the bar for patients to qualify for financial assistance.
Grassley said the hospital “deserves credit” for what it did. But in a floor speech, he said, “Let me be clear: Nonprofit hospitals should not be in the business of aggressively suing their patients. As recipients of a tax-exempt status, these hospitals have a heightened duty to assist patients in qualifying for financial assistance.”
Pro Publica said there are many more nonprofit hospitals across the country that still file lawsuits by the thousands.