45 US hospitals seek $677.4M in payments from Kuwait

Nearly four dozen hospitals, including some of the most prestigious in the U.S., have come together to collect payment of $677.4 million for sophisticated medical care provided to Kuwaiti nationals, according to the Washington Post

The hospitals have spent years on their own and through the State Department trying to secure payment for specialty care provided to thousands of people from Kuwait. In June, they banded together for the first time. In July, they enlisted the aid of Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., who can insert an amendment seeking repayment into defense authorization legislation.

Massachusetts hospitals are leading the repayment effort, as they are owed nearly 25 percent of the total debt, according to the report. Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston is one institution named in the report, as is MD Anderson in Houston. 

Financial pressures brought on by COVID-19 mean hospitals are feeling the debt more than usual. One hospital official told the Post the debt affects the institution's overall outlook and ability to plan. 

It is unusual for a foreign country to let a backlog of medical debt in the U.S. grow for this long, an expert told the Post. The precise cause of the delayed payments is not clear. 

"There's a thousand different excuses out there and none of it is resulting in our hospitals getting paid," Mr. McGovern told the Post. "Friends do not treat friends like this. All we're saying is, 'please pay and if not, we will look at further legislation that quite frankly won't be as polite as the Sense of Congress resolution.'"

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