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Wed Dec 25, 2019, 11:46 AM

What It Looks Like When a Hospital Erases $11.9 Million in debt

After our investigation, Methodist Le Bonheur hospital system erased thousands of patients’ medical debt. Many will no longer have to choose between those bills and their children or themselves. We want you to meet four of them.

In 2018, the massive nonprofit health care system sued her for just over $11,500 in unpaid hospital bills, plus $3,800 in attorney’s fees. In April, a Shelby County General Sessions Court judge ordered her to pay $150 per month toward the debt.

If she was lucky, the envelope contained only a warning. If she wasn’t, it was another attempt to garnish her paycheck, even though she wasn’t even getting one.



Nervously, she opened the letter. “As of August 1, 2019,” it said, “your total amount due is $0 for docket ROBINSON, and we have notified the court that this account has been paid in full.”

“I had to read it a couple of times just to make sure,” Robinson said. “I couldn’t believe it. I went crying around the house.”

https://www.propublica.org/article/what-it-looks-like-when-a-hospital-we-investigated-erases-millions-in-medical-debt

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Arrow 19 replies Author Time Post
Reply What It Looks Like When a Hospital Erases $11.9 Million in debt (Original post)
ismnotwasm Dec 2019 OP
rickyhall Dec 2019 #1
marble falls Dec 2019 #2
Marcuse Dec 2019 #3
SWBTATTReg Dec 2019 #4
rickyhall Dec 2019 #18
ismnotwasm Dec 2019 #5
Recursion Dec 2019 #7
ismnotwasm Dec 2019 #8
Recursion Dec 2019 #10
ismnotwasm Dec 2019 #13
Ilsa Dec 2019 #6
SWBTATTReg Dec 2019 #19
tiredtoo Dec 2019 #9
Recursion Dec 2019 #11
tiredtoo Dec 2019 #12
Recursion Dec 2019 #14
tiredtoo Dec 2019 #15
Recursion Dec 2019 #16
tiredtoo Dec 2019 #17

Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 01:13 PM

1. Our gub'ment and the Fed allowed our hospital, serving over 10,000 patients, to close, bankrupt.

Now we haven't a hospital within 47 miles.

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Response to rickyhall (Reply #1)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 01:24 PM

2. That's a long damn ride if you're bleeding, having heart problems, can't breathe.

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Response to rickyhall (Reply #1)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 01:27 PM

3. I hope your county has a helicopter.

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Response to rickyhall (Reply #1)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 01:50 PM

4. I'm sorry to hear this. One reason why I still live in the metro area...heart and other ...

problems, I don't want to be out of reach in case I need services. Perhaps you have an urgent care shop near you?

Scary indeed!

Take care and Best wishes to you all, rickyhall

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Response to SWBTATTReg (Reply #4)

Thu Dec 26, 2019, 08:18 AM

18. We do have an urgent care facility now

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Response to rickyhall (Reply #1)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 02:02 PM

5. This is a national crisis

When the ACA was implemented, nursing leaders were scrambling to work with schools, hospitals, and doctors groups to make sure they are enough to people to even provide care. Especially in rural areas. There is a little extra funding for people willing to go out to remote or hard to access areas.

Health insurance, universal, M4A, whatever, isn’t enough. We need providers. We need hospitals. We need clinics. We need nurses. We need all the ancillary staff that makes healthcare work.


We have completely failed our rural communities.

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Response to rickyhall (Reply #1)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 02:32 PM

7. A lot of hospitals are going to have to close, whatever we do

MFA, public option, some other reform, it doesn't matter: we have way too many hospitals. The problem is consolidating the right ones...

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Response to Recursion (Reply #7)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 02:40 PM

8. They ARE consolidating

Into huge corporate groups. That doesn’t mean keeping county hospitals open. Hospitals are also at the mercy of their equipment and ability. Not everyone can do the diagnostics needed. My hospital gets many transfers from out of state hospitals because we either can treat certain conditions, or have better diagnostic capabilities.

Complex aneurysms, Liver failure, heart conditions. Many disease processes and conditions, that smaller hospitals can’t handle.

You are right, and That’s the thing with healthcare. People who think it’s about insurance alone are missing a lot of the story

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Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #8)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 02:58 PM

10. Boston's hospitals are where they are because of miasma theory

In the 19th century it was thought the high ground had fewer miasmas than low-lying land, so the hospitals were built there, and there they are still today.

There are 23 hospitals in Boston -- that's too many. But they're nearly all crowded into a small area next to each other. So huge swathes of the city are underserved. It's worse in rural areas, of course, but there it is. We need to have fewer, larger, hospitals, and they need to be in different places than they are. The economics of that will eventually force the closures, if nothing else (and MFA would accelerate that with the lower reimbursement rates). And you're right: a huge problem nobody's talking about is that nobody's going to magically create the nurses, medical aides, physicians, physicians' assistants, med techs, etc. that we'd need to actually provide healthcare for the entire country. There aren't enough providers as it is.

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Response to Recursion (Reply #10)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 04:49 PM

13. Yeah, mine is Univeristy connected

So I tend to think in terms of those networks. We probably have that many in Seattle, but it doesn’t seen like it there are two main group consolidating, three if you count Kaiser.

What ALSO happens is that certain hospitals will avoid difficult, chronic or under insured patients. Hospitals get a bit more reimbursement from the government for being one of those hospitals, but it’s hard. (We are one that takes the more difficult cases) That crap need to stop.

Also, long term care facilities are refusing to take certain types of patients. The reimbursement does not pay for the actual care. They stay hospitalized long after medically necessary because of lack of placement

It’s a giant cluster fuck

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Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 02:30 PM

6. I hope the irs doesn't go after them for

The value of debt forgiveness. Not that the rate would be substantial, but any could be too much.

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Response to Ilsa (Reply #6)

Thu Dec 26, 2019, 04:08 PM

19. Good point, and the IRS will declare this as a taxable event. I guess paying 25% vs. 100% of ...

the medical bill is still better and I'm sure a gift to all of these people. Maybe they (the hospital) trued up the bills paid off, so taxes would be taken care of, but I kind of doubt it.

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Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 02:51 PM

9. Yes the healthcare system in America is F.....D up

It all started back in 1973 when Richard M. Nixon made healthcare a for profit enterprise.

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Response to tiredtoo (Reply #9)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 03:01 PM

11. Methodist Le Bonheur is a not-for-profit. The article mentions that.

Also, for-profit healthcare existed long before 1973; all that law did was allow the creation of HMOs.

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Response to Recursion (Reply #11)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 03:25 PM

12. The creation of For Profit HMOs

Define "not for profit" after reading this.
Dr. Michael Ugwueke, Methodist’s CEO

"Ugwueke, meanwhile, earned $1.6 million in total compensation in 2017, the most recent year for which such data is available. That same year, Gary Shorb, the hospital’s CEO from 2001 to 2016, earned more than $1.2 million for serving as Ugwueke’s adviser. In 2018, the hospital brought in $86 million more than it spent, according to an end-of-year revenue bond disclosure statement."

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Response to tiredtoo (Reply #12)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 05:26 PM

14. What does the CEO's salary matter? (nt)

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Response to Recursion (Reply #14)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 05:31 PM

15. salary of 1.6 million for the CEO and 1.2 million

For an assistant and 86 million in net income sounds a little steep for a "not for profit" enterprise.
Net income after expenses... Profit?

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Response to tiredtoo (Reply #15)

Thu Dec 26, 2019, 03:23 AM

16. Does it "sound a little steep"? Why?

You can't possibly think that's even a rounding error in the overall budget, can you?

I'm also curious now if you understand the difference in for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises. Do you?

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Response to Recursion (Reply #16)

Thu Dec 26, 2019, 04:07 AM

17. Well i always thought a non-profit enterprise did not make a profit.

But perhaps there is a different definition since we are now living in an Oligarchy.

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