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Sen. Grassley Questions UVA Health On Findings From KHN Investigation

In response to a Kaiser Health News investigation into University of Virginia Health System’s aggressive assortment practices, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) despatched a letter Thursday demanding solutions to questions on UVA’s billing practices, monetary help insurance policies and even its costs.

The Finance Committee oversees federal tax legal guidelines, and Grassley wrote that it’s “my job to make sure that entities exempt from tax are fulfilling their tax-exempt purposes.”

The KHN investigation discovered that UVA Health System, a taxpayer-supported and state-funded entity, filed 36,000 lawsuits for greater than $106 million in six years.

“Unfortunately, I have seen a variety of news reports lately discussing what appear to be relentless debt-collection efforts by tax-exempt hospitals, including UVA Health System,” Grassley wrote. “I am also concerned about how patients’ hospital bills get so high in the first place.”

Even although the letter solely questions UVA Health System, whose practices had been pegged within the investigation as significantly aggressive, it sends a sign that the Senate shall be being attentive to a problem that impacts all state run and nonprofit well being methods. Many medical suppliers pursue sufferers for unpaid payments, generally forcing them into chapter 11. Several news stories have highlighted similar collections practices at different nonprofit hospitals.

Nonprofit hospitals get huge tax breaks in alternate for offering “charity care and community benefit,” although there is no such thing as a clear customary about what that ought to imply. Experts have questioned whether or not these breaks are deserved, given hospitals’ pricing, billing and collections practices.

In the seven-page letter, Grassley asks 19 detailed questions on varied matters, together with the system’s charity care (free or discounted care offered to low-income sufferers), debt assortment insurance policies, and its rationale for the litigation threshold of $1,000, enacted in 2017. Grassley asks particular questions on UVA’s customary value checklist, generally often known as the “chargemaster,” which lists costs for procedures and gear posted on its web site.

The letter was addressed to CEO Pamela Sutton-Wallace, who will depart UVA Health System for NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital subsequent month. UVA Health System has till Nov. 19 to reply.

“UVA is committed to assisting indigent and uninsured patients and making sure they receive all necessary care,” UVA Health System spokesman Eric Swensen stated in an e mail to KHN. “We will review the letter, and look forward to working with Sen. Grassley to respond to his questions and share with him the policy changes we have announced and started implementing over the past month to better serve our patients.”

In response to KHN’s investigation, UVA Health System swiftly vowed to change its policies to extend monetary help, give greater reductions to the uninsured and scale back its use of the authorized system. However, KHN reported that some critics don’t assume the information insurance policies go far sufficient.

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