NOTE: "North Carolina Nonprofit Hospitals Bill the Poor"
link will go live at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
(Raleigh, N.C.) North Carolina's nonprofit hospitals have billed millions of dollars to poor patients who should have qualified for free or discounted charity care. State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, C.P.A., is joining with state lawmakers to advocate for greater accountability to ensure hospitals are providing sufficient charity care instead of billing low-income patients.
Treasurer Folwell will hold a press conference Wednesday morning to release a new report on medical debt compiled by the North Carolina State Health Plan and the National Academy of State Health Policy (NASHP), and peer reviewed by Rice University researchers.
Treasurer Folwell, Marilyn Bartlett, C.P.A., of the National Academy of State Health Policy, and Dr. Vivian Ho, James A. Baker Institute Chair in Health Economics at Rice University, will discuss the report's findings, including a lack of standards to ensure nonprofit hospitals are fulfilling their charitable mission. Rep. Edward Goodwin, R-Bertie; Rep. Howard Hunter, D-Gates; Sen. Jim Burgin R-Harnett; Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, D-Wake, will join the Treasurer in urging greater protections for patients and taxpayers.
Treasurer Folwell invited NASHP researchers to extend their national
analysis of hospitals' profits and charity care spending to North Carolina. Together with the North Carolina State Health Plan, these researchers revealed troubling failures in charity care that exposed disadvantaged patients to medical bills.
The report finds that North Carolina's nonprofit hospitals could have billed impoverished patients at a rate far higher than the national average. The initial findings also indicate a disturbing spike in this practice during the pandemic. The report will be released Wednesday morning before the press conference, and it will be made available on the State Health Plan's website and by email.
After years of price increases, health care has become unaffordable for many North Carolinians. One in five families has, according to the Urban Institute. A starting teacher and trooper must work one week in every month just to pay their family premium for health care. Hospital executives have repeatedly blamed high prices on the cost of treating the poor and the uninsured.
The findings in this report show the need for greater accountability. Despite lucrative tax breaks, nonprofit hospitals do not always provide more charity care than their for-profit counterparts. The federal government does not sufficiently define or enforce charity care spending or eligibility standards. The majority of North Carolina's nonprofit hospitals are failing their charitable mission, and poor patients are paying the price.
The report will be attached in another media advisory tomorrow morning and published on the State Health Plan's website under What The Health. The link will go live at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
Reporters: Please use the chat box on WebEx to ask questions.
Press Conference: North Carolina Nonprofit Hospitals
Bill the Poor
Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA; Rep. Edward Goodwin; Rep.
Howard Hunter; Sen. Jim Burgin; Sen. Jay Chaudhuri;
Marilyn Bartlett, C.P.A., National Academy of State Health
Policy senior policy fellow; Dr. Vivian Ho, James A. Baker
Institute Chair in Health Economics at Rice University; and
Julie Havlak of the N.C. State Health Plan.
Wednesday, Jan. 26, 11:00 a.m.
Auditorium - 3rd Floor - Legislative Building
5 W Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
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