AHA responds to Human Rights Watch report on nonprofit hospitals

The American Hospital Association and Catholic Health Association responded to a Human Rights Watch report that accused nonprofit hospitals of aggressively pursuing medical debt collections from low-income patients.

The report criticized the American system of subsidizing privately owned hospitals in exchange for charity care. Human Rights Watch cited a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation that revealed 41 percent of adults in the U.S. had some sort of outstanding medical debt in 2022.

The AHA pushed back against the characterization of hospitals as drivers of the medical debt crisis, according to a June 15 AHA news release.

"The report released today from Human Rights Watch — based in part on research funded by an organization with a track record for bias — conspicuously focuses on tax-exempt hospitals, largely in the absence of other sectors of health care, such as commercial insurers, drug, or device companies that contribute to hospital expenses as well as consumer debt," AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack and CHA President and CEO Sister Mary Haddad, said in the release. "It all but ignores that the root cause of medical debt is inadequate commercial health care coverage. "

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