A shocking New York Times report reveals hospitals refusing care for poor patients or sick children with too many unpaid medical bills.
Allina Health System, which runs more than 100 hospitals and clinics in Minnesota and Wisconsin and brings in $4 billion a year in revenue, was recently exposed for turning away patients with medical debt. The New York Times documented jarring patient stories, including a mother of three children seeking treatment for scabies only being allowed to receive a prescription for two of the children. The third child was refused treatment due to unpaid bills.
As nonprofit hospital participants in the 340B program, certain Allina Health System facilities receive benefits in the form of tax breaks and discounts on drugs in return for providing care for the poorest people in their communities. However, a study by Johns Hopkins professor Ge Bai showed American hospitals falling far short of their duty. Allina spent less than half of 1 percent of its expenses on charity care.
ASAP 340B’s Policy Principles call for the creation of additional accountability requirements to ensure eligible hospitals are supporting underserved communities as true safety-net providers. 340B hospitals should be increasing access to affordable health services, and their participation in the 340B program should be conditioned on them not engaging in aggressive debt collection practices that penalize the most at-risk communities.