Providence responds to senator's debt collection questions

Renton, Wash.-based Providence has responded to a series of questions posed by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington following a Sept. 24 New York Times report detailing the system's alleged debt collection practices. 

Mrs. Murray said in her letter she was seeking answers to several questions, including how much it paid consulting firm McKinsey & Co. for Rev-Up, a program designed to increase its revenue.

Providence CEO Rod Hochman responded Oct. 12 to nine questions posed by the senator. He said the Rev-Up program was short-lived and no longer exists. The letter said the intent was "not to target those in financial distress. Rather, it focused on helping those who are commercially insured and have the means to pay, better understand their out-of-pocket costs."

"We acknowledge that the original training materials, and even the name Rev-Up, were not consistent with our values," Mr. Hochman wrote. "The training was modified over time to ensure the availability of financial assistance and our values of compassion and respect are prominent and clear."

Mr. Hochman did not provide a dollar amount McKinsey was paid for its work producing the materials related to the creation, adoption and implementation of the Rev-Up program. Mr. Hochman said that like other nonprofit health systems, Providence uses consulting services for a variety of reasons. He said Providence has "significantly scaled back" the use of all consultants. 

Mr. Hochman noted that Providence has started issuing refunds with interest after resolving an error that resulted in some Medicaid patients receiving collections notices and making payments to a third-party collection agency. 

"According to Providence policy, this error should not have occurred, and we fixed it as of December 2021," he wrote. "We are currently issuing refunds with interest to the impacted patients. We are validating that, per Providence policy, this error did not negatively impact credit. However, in the event a credit impact did occur, we will work with the third-party agencies to reverse the negative impact."

Read the full letter here

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