Debt collector files 1,067 lawsuits against SSM Health patients

Las Vegas-based debt collector CP Medical has filed more than 1,000 lawsuits against St. Louis-based SSM Health patients, claiming they still owe money for treatment received years prior at SSM Health emergency rooms, reports St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

 SSM Health is a Catholic-based health system including 20 hospitals and more than 31,000 employees in four states.

Below are five things to know about the Post-Dispatch's investigation.

1. CP Medical filed at least 1,078 lawsuits in courts in St. Louis and surrounding counties between Dec. 2, 2014, and March 10, 2016, according to the article. After reviewing the lawsuits, investigative reporters found 99 percent of those cases involved debt stemming from emergency care provided at SSM hospitals.

2. CP Medical did not file suit on behalf of nonprofit SSM Health or its for-profit business partner, Schumacher Clinical Partners, which runs many of its emergency rooms. When asked about the lawsuits, SSM executives said they were unaware the suits existed, according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

3. CP Medical is owned by Duluth, Ga.-based Capio Partners, a national medical debt collection firm. Capio and its affiliated companies have bought more than $17 billion worth of defaulted accounts during the past five years.

4. On Jan. 10, 2014, Schumacher Clinical Partners sold some of its unpaid ER bills to Capio, according to court documents obtained by Post-Dispatch. Schumacher declined to disclose how much debt it sold to Capio.

5. Capio has been accused of aggressive collections practices in recent years. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation in 2011 found Capio had been sued 15 times in federal court for alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act.

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