Patient asks appeals court to reinstate lawsuit accusing Mississippi hospital of hiding ER facility fee

A patient is asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to reinstate claims against a Mississippi hospital accused of hiding emergency room facility fees, according to Bloomberg Law. 

Kimberly Henly claims that Merit Health Biloxi,  owned by Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems, should be held liable for violating a duty to disclose additional ER fees to patients before treatment.

A lower court dismissed the lawsuit in September on grounds that Ms. Henley didn't not have a right to bring a charge against CHS and Merit Health. 

The initial class-action complaint was filed in August 2019 by Ms. Henley on behalf of herself and other Merit Health patients who had gone to the ER. 

The lawsuit claims that Ms. Henly was unknowingly charged an ER facility fee of $2,201.75 when she visited a Merit Health ER in Biloxi in 2018.The hospital later gave Ms. Henly a self-pay discount and reduced the fee to $770.61. 

Ms. Henly claims that she should have been notified of the fee before receiving treatment because under Mississippi law a hospital has a duty to disclose its ER facility fees to prospective patients seeking emergency care.

"Ms. Henly was not aware of the existence of these surcharges, which were not disclosed on any signs posted in or around the emergency room, nor were they disclosed to her verbally at the time of registration, nor did she agree to pay for them," the lawsuit states. "Had she been informed about them prior to seeking treatment, she would have left and sought less expensive treatment elsewhere."

Ms. Henly is asking the appeals court to reinstate the class-action lawsuit against Merit Health Biloxi.

More articles on legal and regulatory issues:
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Cleveland Clinic loses bid to dismiss proposed class-action lawsuit alleging deceptive billing

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