Senator 'Astounded' That Nonprofit Hospitals Sue Poorest Patients

NPR and ProPublica have been reporting about nonprofit hospitals that seize the wages of lower-income and working-class patients. Now, Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says hospitals could be breaking the law by suing these patients and docking their pay. And he wants some answers.
NPR and ProPublica looked across six states, and in each, we found nonprofit hospitals suing hundreds of their patients. One hospital in particular jumped out — Heartland Regional Medical Center in St. Joseph, Mo. Thousands of patients a year are getting their paychecks docked by the hospital and its debt collection arm.
One family we interviewed in our story has been getting their wages seized for nearly 10 years, but still owes $25,000 and feels trapped — in part because Heartland is charging 9 percent interest on that debt.
This family, and others we spoke to, should have qualified for free medical care under the hospital's own charity care policy based on their income. But that didn't happen. We also documented that hundreds of patients with low-wage jobs at McDonald's, Wal-Mart and elsewhere had their pay seized by this hospital.
Grassley: Hospitals Could Be Breaking The Law
Grassley, R-Iowa, told NPR and ProPublica he was "astounded" by these collection practices. For more than a decade, Grassley has been working to make nonprofit hospitals more accountable for the huge tax breaks they get. They don't pay federal income tax or local property tax. Grassley says that to justify their tax-exempt status, nonprofit hospitals have to "earn" it by "taking care of people who couldn't provide for their own health care."
Grassley worked on voluntary standards. But he also authored language in the Affordable Care Act requiringhospitals to do more to provide charitable care.
After he saw NPR and ProPublica's reporting on Heartland Hospital (which is changing its name to Mosaic Life Care), Grassley decided to get involved.
He says that under the ACA, a hospital has a responsibility to make a determination: Can a person or a family pay, or can they not? "It seems like Mosaic turned [the law] on its head," he says.
Grassley says the ACA requires that hospitals take the initiative to determine whether patients qualify for financial aid. The hospital is not supposed to shift that burden onto the patients. But in Heartland/Mosaic's case, Grassley said, "It seems to me they have not taken the initiative and they have not abided by the law."

Tougher Rules Required?
And Grassley hopes his letter sends a wider message to other nonprofit hospitals that are being too aggressive collecting bills from patients who can't afford to pay. "Well, I think some hospitals, you hit them over the head with a two-by-four and they still don't get the message," he said.Heartland/Mosaic's board is reviewing its practices as a result of our earlier reporting. Grassley has now sent a letter to the hospital saying he wants to be briefed on the results of that review by Jan. 30. Grassley wrote that the hospital "may not be meeting the requirements to be a nonprofit."


  1. We are more Astounded that Senators would sell out the American people and treat us as modern day tax slaves. We we astounded at the corporations and foreign countries getting more pull than America. We are astounded at Nafta being passed by senators and shipping out jobs to foreign countries. We are astounded that senators don't feel we should know where poison GMO foods are included as ingredients.
    We are Astounded that the poison mercury is in flu shots. We are astounded that foreign governments can provide free medical treatments and our system can bankrupt us in one surgery. We are astounded that the Glass Steagall act was rescinded and Mortgage backed securities caused a worldwide robbery by bankers. We are astounded that senators whore themselves out for "campaign contributions"/ bribes. We are astounded that Piglosi and Swinestein are allowed to have their positions of hating Americas working class. We are astounded at the Obamacare robbing us blind while trillions get spent on wars.( instead of helping our poor.) We are astounded at our veterans which were forced to kill others are discarded by the government.
    We are astounded that our roads and bridges are rotting, there are homeless in the streets, that cops kill more than the Iraqi war and not get charged with a crime. We are astounded that we are all terrorists but had nothing to do with 9/11. we are astounded that WTC 7 freefell after no damage from the planes. We are astounded that senators are ok with government fully spying on everything we do. We are astounded that we have been sold out and betrayed.WTF can a senator be astounded about. lousy pot calling kettle black.

  2. jay_diggityJanuary 22, 2015

    the KKK as well as the black panther party are merely wings of the zionist controlled FBI used to race bait the goy and keep them divided.

    look it up

  3. jay_diggityJanuary 22, 2015

    im astounded a senator gets free health care for life, interest free loans and an exorbitant salary on top of that for doing what? acting important?

  4. jay_diggityJanuary 22, 2015

    thank you yes.

  5. I will bet you right now this leads back to jewish filth

  6. God Bless David Duke! American Hero! The "KKK" is just an FBI operation, it doesn't really exist independently. In any given "Klan" meeting, 2 out 3 "klan members" are actually federal informants, and the third guys is always mentally handicapped. GOD BLESS DAVID DUKE!

  7. Illegal Mexicans and the hapless negros think everything is free. Glad to see the hospitals bang them out.

  8. It always does. Turn over a rock and a jew squints back at you.


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