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Washington State Attorney General wins two suits under Medical Billing Practices

The Washington State Attorney General successfully sued a major healthcare organization on February 1st, demanding that it pay over $158 million in settlement money in accordance with the state’s Consumer Protection Act (CPA). According to the Washington AG, hospital management is required by state law to inform patients about financial aid and to verify their eligibility before attempting to collect money from them. This was broken by the healthcare company. The healthcare organization has been ordered to erase $137.2 million in medical debt, pay $20.6 million in inpatient refunds, and pay $4.5 million to support the expenditures of the attorney general.

The consent decree, among other things, contains a number of injunctions to be followed or avoided for a period of five years, such as upholding charity care practices and refusing to collect money for medical services until one of the two specified conditions is met. Finally, the consent order stipulates that the healthcare company may be required to pay up to $125,000 for each condition that is broken. The claims made in the complaints submitted in the initial lawsuit dated February 2022 are not acknowledged by the defendants.

In contrast, on February 2, the Washington AG filed a successful move for partial summary judgment against a healthcare group’s medical debt collection firm for using the Collection Firm Act (CAA) to issue 82,729 debt collection notifications. The AG’s conclusion that the agency’s debt collection letters lacked the necessary disclosures needed under the CAA was accepted by the court. No damages have been granted as of yet.

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