Mosaic Life Care stops suing patients over unpaid medical bills

Mosaic Life Care in Missouri has decided to stop suing patients--many of whom are low-income--over unpaid bills, according to ProPublica.

The non-profit hospital reportedly made the decision after ProPublica and NPR wrote about the practice and it promoted a Senate investigation. Mosaic Life has since created a "grace period" for its indebted patients and provided some $17 million in relief after their finances were reviewed.

In 2014, it was revealed that Mosaic Life, formerly known as Heartland Regional Medical Center, had formed a for-profit subsidiary to collect payments from patients, and had sued at least 6,000 of them, typically garnishing their wages and charging interest when a judgment was entered against the patient.

The hospital "deserves credit for doing the right thing after its practices were scrutinized," Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote in a recent letter to his Senate colleagues, according to ProPublica, "but it should not take Congressional and press attention to ensure that tax-exempt, charitable organizations are focused on their mission of helping those in need."

Grassley has been a leading Congressional critic of non-profit hospitals suing patients, saying that it violates their mission and is particularly galling given they do not have to pay taxes.

ProPublica noted that despite the change in policy by Mosaic Life, many hospitals and healthcare systems are still dunning patients and taking them to court--after often failing to inform them of charity care options. Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, Indiana had sued more than 20,000 patients between 2010 and last year, only agreeing to stop the practice after they were contacted by the publication.

To learn more:
- read the ProPublica article