Methodist Le Bonheur, a nonprofit healthcare system in Memphis, Tennessee received major flak due to their almost aggressive debt collection process regarding unpaid medical balances.
What We Know:
- The decision to forgive the outstanding balances comes amid an overhaul of its debt collection processes announced in late July. An investigation from the nonprofit news organizations, MLK50: Justice Through Journalism and ProPublica, are to thank for the unexpected twists.
- The investigation revealed that more than 8,000 debt lawsuits were filed from 2014-2018. A few of those were filed against employees of the hospital. Many of the patients have had little to nothing to pay, but the hospital insistently pursued them, often garnishing the paychecks they did receive.
- Single-page “case satisfied” notices filed by Methodist are said to be coming into the Shelby County Sessions Court faster than they can be processed. A court administrator estimated a backlog of about 4,500 Methodist notices are waiting to be entered into the court’s system.
- From July 30 through Tuesday, the court had logged more than 2,300 notices submitted by the hospital system that wiped away patients’ debts.
- On June 30, a few days after the investigation published by MLK50-ProPublica, Methodist CEO Michael Ugwueke responded in a statement defending its position in the community. Ugwueke noted how Methodist is the only health care system that has hospitals in all four quadrants of Shelby County and that it has provided more than $226 million in community benefit. He says that they will spend the next 30 days reviewing policies and procedures.
Since July 3, Methodist has not filed any new debt collection lawsuits or garnishment attempts.