Monday, February 13, 2012
The New York Times reports on a recent study showing that New York's charity care system has significant problems that are not being acknowledged nor addressed by the state government. The complicated system, which is partially financed by an 8.95% surcharge on hospital bills, is criticized by some patient advocates as ineffective in improving patient access and care. The study found that some hospitals failed to provide patients with elibility information on discounted care as required by NY state law, did not provide patients with financial aid applications, and made impermissible demands for unnecessary documents. While providing limited to no financial aid and utilizing aggressive bill collection practices (including liens against patients' homes), hospitals continued to collect, without questions or audits, from the state charity care pool that distributes more than $1 billion a year. Patient advocates and hospital administrators are reportedly being assembled to overhaul a better system.