Hospital Stars In “I’ve Got A Secret”

Patients qualified for financial assistance; hospital sends them to debt collection instead

Nonprofit hospitals are required to provide financial assistance to low-income patients. Providence health system, however, did the opposite in many cases. Rather than ensuring that low-income patients received the financial assistance they were due, Providence hounded them to pay and sent debt collectors after them when they didn’t, according to a New York Times investigation. These actions were part of an official campaign to boost revenue called “Rev-Up” developed with help from corporate consultant McKinsey. The “Rev-Up” campaign directed employees to tell patients about financial assistance only as a last resort. The result: more than 55,000 patients were pursued by debt collectors when they should have been given a discount.

In response, a Providence spokesperson told the Times that they stopped sending Medicaid patients to debt collection, and said that they will issue refunds to about 760 patients eligible for assistance who were previously charged for their medical care. 

*Note: The Lown Institute provided data to the New York Times about Providence Health System’s tax exemption for this piece.

SOURCE: Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Katie Thomas, New York Times