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UVA Suspends Medical Lawsuits In Wake Of KHN Investigation

Jay Hancock, Kaiser Health News and Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, Kaiser Health News

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Under strain after Kaiser Health News reported Monday that it sues hundreds of sufferers a yr and sends many into chapter 11, University of Virginia Health System suspended a couple of dozen affected person lawsuits Thursday and stated it is going to announce adjustments to its billing and collections coverage Friday.

At a weekly session on the Albemarle County Courthouse usually dominated by UVA hospital litigation, UVA lawyer Melissa Riley stated instances as a result of be heard Thursday can be withdrawn whereas the system takes a broader have a look at its long-standing observe of aggressive debt assortment.

The transfer impacts solely these instances and adjustments nothing for hundreds of sufferers who’ve already misplaced courtroom judgments to UVA or face different pending lawsuits. And these instances may very well be refiled later.

“The university is conducting a review and may announce changes to its policies tomorrow,” Riley stated.

Several sufferers within the courtroom and District Court Judge William Barkley stated that they had no remark.

UVA sued greater than 36,000 sufferers over six years for unpaid payments for greater than $106 million, KHN discovered.

It additionally seized some $22 million in sufferers’ state tax refunds, largely exterior the judicial course of, as a part of a program to assist state and native governments gather money owed. And it continuously billed uninsured sufferers for way over what a typical insurance coverage firm would have paid.

Top officers on the well being system’s quarterly board assembly Thursday morning have been set to debate billing and collections in a closed session however had little to say in regards to the issues beforehand.

“I’m very concerned” about what KHN reported “and I’m very sympathetic” to sufferers caught in litigation, stated James Murray, a enterprise capitalist who as rector serves as the top of the UVA Board of Visitors, its governing physique.

As common, the board met in UVA’s classical Rotunda, designed by Thomas Jefferson. UVA is taxpayer- and state-funded. A KHN reporter objected to the closed session, arguing that issues probably affecting a whole bunch of hundreds of UVA sufferers needs to be mentioned publicly.

“We’re not going to discuss it in open session,” stated Pamela Sutton-Wallace, the UVA Medical Center CEO who will step down in November, the college disclosed Tuesday.

Instead the board, led by L.D. Britt, a surgeon and professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, celebrated a worthwhile fiscal yr and UVA Medical Center rating once more as U.S. News & World Report’s prime hospital in Virginia.

Unaudited outcomes introduced Thursday confirmed UVA Medical Center, the core of UVA Health, made an $87 million working revenue on income of $1.7 billion within the fiscal yr ending in June and held shares, bonds and different investments price about $1 billion.

As a part of its investigation into billing practices, KHN reported that UVA has the least beneficiant affected person monetary help tips of any main hospital system in Virginia. Savings of only some thousand dollars in a 401(ok) account can disqualify even households with very low incomes from UVA support.

CEO Sutton-Wallace is transferring to New York-Presbyterian Hospital in November to turn into a senior vice chairman, UVA Health introduced Tuesday. Her departure “is in no way related” to the billing and collections issues, UVA President James Ryan stated in a message to workers.

New York-Presbyterian didn’t reply to a number of requests for remark.

Data editor Elizabeth Lucas contributed to this report. 

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nationwide well being coverage information service. It is an editorially unbiased program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which isn’t affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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