The original lawsuit, filed earlier this year, included facilities in Walla Walla, as well as Kadlec in Richland.

   Lawsuit expanded to include collection agencies

 Earlier this year, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a consumer protection lawsuit against a total of 14 hospitals that are under the Providence, Swedish, or Kadlec systems.  The suit claimed they failed to notify eligible clients they could potentially qualify for what's called charity care.

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Charity Care allows certain patients to have some or even all medical costs dropped depending upon their income. Since 2018, the lawsuit claims 54,000 clients were sent to debt collection, despite the hospitals knowing these people qualified for some sort of assistance.

   Now, the suit expanded to include two collection agencies.

Now on Tuesday, August 9th the AG's office announced two collection agencies, Harris  & Harris and Optimum Outcomes, have been added. According to information released by the AG office:

"When sending a first collection notice, collection agencies must include written notice that an individual may be eligible for charity care. Acting as Providence’s agents, Harris & Harris and Optimum Outcomes illegally failed to inform patients about the availability of charity care discounts before aggressively collecting on their medical debt. These collection agencies also illegally failed to inform patient of their right to request certain information about their debt"

  This new portion of the suit claims they violated the WA state Collection Agency and Consumer Protection Acts. The suit claims the collection agencies illegally collected more than $470 million in debts.

Over the last year, charity care has been expanded again in Washington state, after similar moves the last few years.


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