The report found that the New York hospital had placed thousands of liens on patients’ houses through bills.
The Community Service Association stated that the Lenox Hill Hospital in Northwell submitted 40 liens and was the only hospital in the city to engage in this practice during this period.
Northwell spokesperson Barbara Osborn (Barbara Osborn) called the report “misleading and inaccurate” and stated that the system “never and will never force the sale of anyone’s property.”
Osborne said in a statement: “When patients are able to pay for medical care but choose not to pay, their actions jeopardize our ability to provide high-quality care to the community and threaten our ability to pay for medical care to those who cannot afford it. The promise of financial assistance.”. “The lien resulting from the judgment is passive, and no action will be taken until the property is sold at some point and all creditors with judgment are paid.”
State law allows non-profit hospitals to obtain a lien on the patient’s house after winning a favorable judgment in a medical debt lawsuit. A bill currently pending in Albany will prohibit hospitals from obtaining liens on patients’ primary residences; Elisabeth Benjamin, vice president of health plans for the Community Services Association, said that 10 states have enacted such laws.
Benjamin said the lien has a “destructive” effect on patients, jeopardizing their ability to sell or refinance a house or obtain a loan to buy a car or pay college tuition. She said that this approach had a disproportionate impact on people of color and low-income patients, many of whom did not pay for medical expenses because they could not afford it.
State Senator Gustavo Rivera, who chairs his House Health Committee and sponsors the legislation, called this practice “unreasonable.”
Bea Grause, president of the New York State Health Care Association, which represents 246 hospitals and healthcare systems, stated that the report “ignores the extensive work that hospitals do to help patients get coverage for the services they provide and further free them from personal liability if they are eligible. Get financial aid.”
Osborne said, for example, Northwell provided more than $250 million in unpaid charitable care in 2020 and issued more than 40,000 zero-interest payment plans.
Benjamin said that many inpatients are unaware of financial assistance options, partly because assistance applications and policies are not standardized across facilities.
“This may be a generous policy, but only in name,” she said.
The New York Community Service Association was established in 1939 to address the root causes of economic disparities through research, publicity, litigation, and planning. It is located in Murray Hill.
This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crane’s New York business.