SC court says uninsured not guaranteed discounts

When celebrity chefs Geoffrey Zakarian and José Andrés canceled plans to open restaurants in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., they had to know they were in for a fight.

A high court in South Carolina has ruled that state law doesn't force hospitals to give uninsured patients the same discounts offered insured patients. A lower court had held that a loophole in state law gave all patients access to the same discounts through 2004, which could cut 50 percent or more off a standard hospital bill according to some estimates. However, the South Carolina Supreme Court didn't buy this argument, noting that the type of contracts referred to by the 1960s-era law weren't used by hospitals any more.

Attorneys for the uninsured patients, meanwhile, say they aren't going to give up. They're going to continue to press a lawsuit against several state hospitals alleging that the uninsured patients were cheated. Because they can no longer base their case on state law--which required hospitals to offer anyone the best rate possible if the bills were paid within seven days--they're going forward using the notion of common law and fairness.

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