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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

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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: www.propublica.org
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  • 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: www.heartlandregional.com
Heartland Regional Medical Center. Image source: www.heartlandregional.com

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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Heart Attack Patients Get Safer, Faster Lab Scores That Diagnose Diseases

Within one month of the emergency department visits, 727 heart attacks or deaths in patients occurred.

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Faster, safer lab score to diagnose heart attacks developed. Pexels

Researchers have developed a simple laboratory score which is safer and faster at diagnosing patients who visit the emergency department with heart attack symptoms.

The findings, published in the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), suggest that the score can also identify patients at risk of subsequent heart issues after discharge.

“We have developed a simple lab score that is superior to using cardiac troponin alone for the identification of patients at low and high risk for heart attack or death at emergency department presentation,” said co-author Peter Kavsak from the McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

“This lab score may reduce both the number of blood tests and the time spent in the emergency department for chest pain patients,” Andrew Worster, Professor at the varsity, said.

The team combined common laboratory blood tests available at several hospitals around the world to create a single laboratory score. Pixabay
The team combined common laboratory blood tests available at several hospitals around the world to create a single laboratory score. Pixabay

For the study, the team combined common laboratory blood tests available at several hospitals around the world to create a single laboratory score or clinical chemistry score, to diagnose a heart attack.

These blood tests are part of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of essential in vitro diagnostic tests for health care facilities with clinical laboratories.

The researchers validated the clinical chemistry score as a predictor of heart attacks or deaths within 30 days, using the data on 4,245 patients from emergency department studies in four countries — Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Germany.

Within one month of the emergency department visits, 727 heart attacks or deaths in patients occurred.

blood tests are part of the World Health Organization's (WHO) list of essential in vitro diagnostic tests for health care facilities with clinical laboratories.
blood tests are part of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of essential in vitro diagnostic tests for health care facilities with clinical laboratories. Pixabay

A negative (or low-risk) clinical chemistry score at emergency department presentation missed only one of these events compared with up to 25 missed heart attacks or deaths when using a high-sensitivity cardiac troponin test alone.

Also Read: Microsoft, Apollo Hospitals to use AI for Cardiac Diseases

A positive (or high-risk) clinical chemistry score also identified about 75 per cent of the patients at high risk of heart attacks or deaths when positive compared with a low of 40 per cent detected when the high-sensitivity cardiac troponin test alone was positive.

The researchers suggest the score can be useful for standardising diagnoses and improving safety. (IANS)