Union slams Beth Israel financial practices

A new report by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) claims that Boston teaching hospital Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is not playing fair when it comes to billing for charity care. The union says that that Beth Israel is being too aggressive in seeking compensation from a state pool set up to reimburse hospitals for giving free care to the uninsured. It contends that Beth Israel is billing too much for emergency department visits, and moreover, is being too aggressive in collecting for ED-related bad debt. The union found that the hospital had the Boston metro's highest emergency room costs from 2002 through 2005. It also notes that the hospital's billing for emergency department-related bad debt collections from the pool have climbed much more quickly than other hospitals, from about $1.65 million in 2001 to roughly $8.3 million in 2004. In so doing, the SEIU says, Beth Israel could sap the $610 million pool, undermining its ability to serve as a fund for purchasing coverage for the uninsured. The hospital, for its part, says that it's following all state regulations and has never had any indication that anyone objected to its practices. The SEIU has now delivered the report to state Senator Marc Pacheco (D), who has said he will investigate further.

To learn more about the dispute:
- read this article from The Boston Globe