VCU Health says it will stop suing patients over unpaid bills

Richmond-based Virginia Commonwealth University Health System said it will stop filing lawsuits against patients to collect debt and make it easier for patients to receive financial assistance, according to Kaiser Health News.

The move comes after a KHN examination of district court data revealed that the health system's in-house physicians group filed more than 56,000 patient debt-collection lawsuits for $81 million over seven years, ending in 2018.

Melinda Hancock, VCU Health's chief administrative and financial officer, told KHN the health system now has a new approach, which includes ending such litigation against patients "as part of normal debt collection." 

She said VCU Health is also boosting financial assistance for lower-income families and stopping garnishment of patient wages and placing liens on patient homes to collect debt.

Health system spokesperson Laura Rossacher told the nonprofit news service VCU Health is looking at "how we should address pending lawsuits and retrospective cases."

Another Virginia health system, Charlottesville-based University of Virginia Health System, also recently announced changes to its collection practices, after a special report for The Washington Post revealed it had sued thousands of former patients, seized wages and put liens on homes. Ms. Hancock told KHN that VCU Health already had been considering policy changes when the special report came out, and its revelations hastened the health system's decision.

Read the full KHN report here.


More articles on healthcare finance: 

Medical debt collectors barred from wiping out Californians' bank accounts
Michigan lawmakers seek to restore millions in healthcare budget cuts
Connecticut launches medical cost estimator tool

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