Virginia health system pauses suits against patients over unpaid bills

Fredericksburg, Va.-based Mary Washington Healthcare has suspended suing patients for unpaid medical bills amid public attention about its collection practices, according to The Free Lance–Star.

The health system suspended pending lawsuits against patients through September. In Fredericksburg General District Court, Mary Washington also received approval to move up trials initially scheduled for the fall so the health system can suspend those cases, the Lance-Star reported.

Mary Washington decided to suspend lawsuits against patients for debt after research published last month in JAMA found 36 percent of Virginia hospitals garnished patient wages to collect payment for medical bills in 2017. The report also found that nonprofit hospitals are more likely to garnish patient wages.

Eric Fletcher, a senior vice president at Mary Washington, told the Lance-Star the decision means the system won't pursue unpaid medical bills in court during a review of the organization's billing and payment processes. It does not mean the debt is forgiven.

Mary Washington is a nonprofit with two hospitals, three emergency departments and more than 45 healthcare facilities and wellness services.

Read the full Lance-Star report here.


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