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An US non-profit hospital, Mosaic forgave bills and stopped suing poor people, when came to light

Mosaic used to refuse medical attention to those that they had sued. Now, under their new policy which came about in 2015, the patients enter into a medical debt grace period

Heartland Regional Medical Center, a nonprofit, is the only hospital in St. Joseph, Mo. The hospital and its system of clinics recently rebranded as Mosaic. Image source:
  • Heartland Regional Medical Center sued low income patients for their medical bills
  • The hospital pardoned the debt in light of a new financial assistance policy
  • Many patients were unaware the policy even existed

Poor People were sued for inability to pay bills by an US non-profit hospital. When came to light, forgave bills

An US non-profit hospital, Mosaic forgave bills and stopped suing poor people, when came to light

Heartland Regional Medical Center nonprofit hospital in St. Joseph, Missouri in United States. sued low income patients because they were not paying hospital bills. In light of these findings, Senator Charles Grassley stated, “Let me be clear: Nonprofit hospitals should not be in the business of aggressively suing their patients. In essence, because of the favorable tax treatment these hospitals receive, they have a duty to help our nation’s most vulnerable.”

Senator Charles Grassley. Image source: Wikimedia Commons.
Senator Charles Grassley. Image source: Wikimedia Commons.

A republican from Iowa, he made it clear that it was unacceptable that this issue had to be brought to the attention of not only congress but the press. He said that it should not have come to this, and the hospital should have upheld its mission and helped those in need.

It was due to an investigation done by NPR and ProPublica that led to uncovering the lawsuits Heartland Regional Medical Center, now known as Mosaic Life Care, was issuing. In fact, to NPR and ProPublica’s surprise, Mosaic was not the only nonprofit hospital that was quietly suing patients.

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Mosaic and other nonprofit hospitals such as, Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, Indiana, have started to revisit their financial assistance policies. Mosaic used to refuse medical attention to those that they had sued. Now, under their new policy which came about in 2015, the patients enter into a medical debt grace period. With this policy, even the patients who owe the hospital money can receive medical attention.

Heartland Regional Medical Center. Image source:
Heartland Regional Medical Center. Image source:

This new policy relieved 3,342 people of their debt. The total amounted to $17 million being pardoned. That is a substantial amount of money that the money will never receive. Interestingly enough, they are still trying to obtain some sort of payment from patients who owe them. Keith Herie, a patient, said that he still owed the hospital over $26,000. After looking at his income, Mosaic deemed his income too high to allow his debts to be pardoned. The patient settled on paying $8,300 to Mosaic. That was after the fact that he had already paid $20,000 to the hospital prior to the official changes in Mosaic’s policy.

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In another interesting discovery ProPublica reached out to Keith Berry, a man who is on disability. He had not heard that Mosaic had a new debt forgiveness policy. When he contacted the hospital, they simply stated that he was too old and did not qualify. The policy does have specific steps. The debt period is held from October 1, thru December 31. During these days, patients, who having outstanding debt, must apply to be considered eligible to receive the benefits of this policy.

The CEO of the hospital said that although the hospital has done everything medically right for their patients, they are learning to do the same when it comes to finances. It is not just Mosaic and Deaconess that have failed the patients financially. Under half of 1,800 hospitals studied had failed to notify patients of their financial assistance policy prior to billing them.

Abigail Andrea is an intern at NewsGram. Twitter @abby_kono


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Therapy Dogs Befriend Patients in ICU

Therapy dogs help patients in ICU by reducing their stress

Study says that dogs can help reduce stress and anxiety among humans. Pixabay

Studies show when people pet an animal, their blood pressure goes down along with stress and anxiety. That’s why there are so many therapy dogs in schools, counseling centers and even in hospitals.

Taz wags his tail when he greets patients at the University of Missouri Hospital. Taz and Bruce Miller are part of a therapy dog team.

“He gets a lot of attention — haha — and he loves the attention,” Miller said.

Taz is trained to provide comfort and emotional support to the patients he visits. And while no one wants to be in a hospital, Kevin Gwin’s job is to make sure a stay at the University of Missouri Hospital is a positive one.

“I think sometimes patients feel isolated,” Gwin said. “They get out here, it’s lonely, it’s boring. And the dogs are something to look forward to, and when they visit, the whole unit comes alive.”

Fourteen-year-old Peyton Waldren loved having Taz visit him.

Dogs help patients by making them feel less lonely in hospitals. Pixabay

“I was just really excited because I havenʼt seen a dog in a really long time, so, it made me happy,” Waldren said. “I didnʼt think about my pain, I didnʼt think about what else was gonna happen.”

Therapy dogs are even in the intensive care unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital. They visit patients who are well enough to interact with the dogs.

Marlena Casey is the two-legged partner of a therapy dog team that includes Molly, a black Labrador retriever. Casey said the training is rigorous.

“We went through training for about three years, both in classes, and then alone by myself,” Casey said. “And she passed her test in April.”

But actual research on how these dogs impact patients doesn’t exist. Megan Hosey, a psychologist, has initiated a study to see if these dogs improve patients’ well-being.

“Our review of previous literature found that patients who are in settings like hospitals, nursing homes and psychiatric facilities have benefits from working with therapy animals that include improved mood, reductions in pain, improvements in heart rate and heart rate variability and, just in general, better engagement with their medical care,”  Hosey said.

Therapy dogs in hospitals visit patients who are well enough to interact with the dogs. Pixabay

Yet there is no hard data to prove any of this. One of the things Hosey wants to examine is if patients are more motivated to follow doctors’ orders after visits by a therapy dog.

Another area is to see if patients visited by these dogs have improved moods, which could also affect their medical outcomes.

Also Read- Mental Health Disorders Drive Children and Adolescents to Risky, Self-Destructive Behavior

Hosey said the study will be completed in about two years. Then she and the rest of the medical community will have data on the impact therapy dogs have on patients. (VOA)