Tennessee hospital has sued 11,000+ patients for unpaid medical bills

Cookeville (Tenn.) Regional Medical Center has sued thousands of patients to recoup medical debts, with some past-due accounts totaling $500 and others over $9,500, according to WPLN News.

The city-owned hospital has sued more than 11,000 patients over the past two decades, according to a WPLN News investigation. In 2019 alone, the hospital sued 956 patients. Cookeville Regional Medical also wrote off less charity care and unpaid bills, according to the report.

WPLN News said Cookeville Regional is an outlier among hospitals in neighboring Nashville, where an HCA Healthcare-owned hospital with comparable revenue only sued a handful of patients in 2019.

Many of the patients facing lawsuits are employed and insured with high-deductible health plans, making it hard for them to get charity care assistance through the hospital.

Cookeville Regional CEO Paul Korth said the money is needed to keep the hospital open and its 2,300 staff members employed. The hospital doesn't plan to stop the practice.

"It's hard on us," Mr. Korth told WPLN News. "These are our friends and family, people that live next door to us, go to church with us."

Read the full report here.

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