Nursing homes use lawsuits to demand friends and family pay off medical debts : Shots

Lucille Brooks, a retiree who lives in Pittsford, New York, was sued in 2020 for nearly $8,000 by a nursing home that had taken care of her brother. The nursing home dropped the case after she showed she had no control over his money or authority to make decisions for him.

Heather Ainsworth for KHN


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Heather Ainsworth for KHN


Lucille Brooks, a retiree who lives in Pittsford, New York, was sued in 2020 for nearly $8,000 by a nursing home that had taken care of her brother. The nursing home dropped the case after she showed she had no control over his money or authority to make decisions for him.

Heather Ainsworth for KHN

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Lucille Brooks was stunned when she picked up the phone before Christmas two years ago and learned a nursing home was suing her.

“I thought this was crazy,” recalled Brooks, 74, a retiree who lives with her husband in a modest home in the Rochester suburbs. Brooks’ brother had been a resident of the nursing home. But she had no control over his money or authority to make decisions for him. She wondered how she could be on the hook for his nearly $8,000 bill.

Brooks would learn she wasn’t alone. Pursuing unpaid bills, nursing homes across this industrial city have been routinely suing not only residents but their friends and family, a KHN review of court records reveals. The practice has ensnared scores of children, grandchildren, neighbors, and others, many with nearly no financial ties to residents or legal responsibility for their debts.

The lawsuits illuminate a dark corner of America’s larger medical debt crisis, which a KHN-NPR investigation found has touched more than half of all U.S. adults in the past five years.

Litigation is a frequent byproduct. About 1 in 7 adults who have had health care debt say they’ve been threatened with a lawsuit or arrest, according to a nationwide KFF poll conducted for this project. Five percent say they’ve been sued.

The nursing home industry has quietly developed what consumer attorneys and patient advocates say is a pernicious strategy of pursuing family and friends of patients despite federal law that was enacted to protect them from debt collection. “The level of aggression that nursing homes are using to collect unpaid debt is severely increasing,” said Lisa Neeley, a Massachusetts elder law attorney.

In Monroe

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After Medical Bills Broke the Bank, This Family Headed to Mexico for Care

The Fierro family of Yuma, Arizona, had a string of bad medical luck that started in December 2020.

That’s when Jesús Fierro Sr. was admitted to the hospital with a serious covid-19 infection. He spent 18 days at Yuma Regional Medical Center, where he lost 60 pounds. He came home weak and dependent on an oxygen tank.

Then, in June 2021, his wife, Claudia, fainted while waiting for a table at the local Olive Garden. She felt dizzy one minute and was in an ambulance on her way to the same medical center the next. She was told her magnesium levels were low and was sent home within 24 hours.

The family has health insurance through Jesús Sr.’s job. But it didn’t protect the Fierros from owing thousands of dollars. So, when their son Jesús Fierro Jr. dislocated his shoulder, the Fierros — who hadn’t yet paid the bills for their own care — opted out of U.S. health care and headed south to the U.S.-Mexico border.

And no other bills came for at least one member of the family.

The Patients: Jesús Fierro Sr., 48; Claudia Fierro, 51; and Jesús Fierro Jr., 17. The family has Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas health insurance through Jesús Sr.’s employment with NOV Inc., formerly National Oilwell Varco, a multinational oil company.

Medical Services: For Jesús Sr., 18 days of inpatient care for a severe covid infection. For Claudia, less than 24 hours of emergency care after fainting. For Jesús Jr., a walk-in appointment for a dislocated shoulder.

Total Bills: Jesús Sr. was charged $3,894.86. The total bill was $107,905.80 for covid treatment. Claudia was charged $3,252.74, including $202.36 for treatment from an out-of-network physician. The total bill was $13,429.50 for less than a day of treatment. Jesús Jr. was charged about $5 (70 pesos) for an outpatient visit that the family paid in cash.

Service Providers: Yuma Regional Medical Center, a 406-bed, nonprofit hospital in Yuma, Arizona. It’s in the Fierros’ insurance network. And a private doctor’s office in Mexicali, Mexico, which is not.

The Fierros have been strapped by unusually high medical bills from the Yuma Regional Medical Center.(Lisa Hornak for KHN)

What Gives: The Fierros were trapped in a situation that more and more Americans find themselves in: They are what some experts term “functionally uninsured.” They have insurance — in this case, through Jesús Sr.’s job,

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Hit with $7,146 for two hospital bills, a family sought health care in Mexico : Shots

Claudia and Jesús Fierro of Yuma, Ariz., review their medical bills. They pay $1,000 a month for health insurance yet still owed more than $7,000 after two episodes of care at the local hospital.

Lisa Hornak for Kaiser Health News


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Lisa Hornak for Kaiser Health News


Claudia and Jesús Fierro of Yuma, Ariz., review their medical bills. They pay $1,000 a month for health insurance yet still owed more than $7,000 after two episodes of care at the local hospital.

Lisa Hornak for Kaiser Health News

The Fierro family of Yuma, Ariz., had a string of bad medical luck that started in December 2020.

That’s when Jesús Fierro Sr. was admitted to the hospital with a serious case of COVID-19. He spent 18 days at Yuma Regional Medical Center, where he lost 60 pounds. He came home weak and dependent on an oxygen tank.

Then, in June 2021, his wife, Claudia Fierro, fainted while waiting for a table at the local Olive Garden restaurant. She felt dizzy one minute and was in an ambulance on her way to the same medical center the next. She was told her magnesium levels were low and was sent home within 24 hours.

The family has health insurance through Jesús Sr.’s job, but it didn’t protect the Fierros from owing thousands of dollars. So when their son Jesús Fierro Jr. dislocated his shoulder, the Fierros — who hadn’t yet paid the bills for their own care — opted out of U.S. health care and headed south to the U.S.-Mexico border.

And no other bills came for at least one member of the family.

The patients: Jesús Fierro Sr., 48; Claudia Fierro, 51; and Jesús Fierro Jr., 17. The family has Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas health insurance through Jesús Sr.’s employment with NOV, formerly National Oilwell Varco, an American multinational oil company based in Houston.

Medical services: For Jesús Sr., 18 days of inpatient care for a severe case of COVID-19. For Claudia, fewer than 24 hours of emergency care after fainting. For Jesús Jr., a walk-in appointment for a dislocated shoulder.

Total bills: Jesús Sr. was charged $3,894.86. The total bill was $107,905.80 for COVID-19 treatment. Claudia was charged $3,252.74, including $202.36 for treatment from an out-of-network physician. The total bill was $13,429.50 for less than one day of treatment. Jesús Jr. was charged $5 (70 pesos)

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Immigrant family members allege discriminatory therapy at clinic | Well being and Fitness

BOSTON (AP) — Immigrant women of all ages and families are calling on Massachusetts officers to examine problems of discriminatory and substandard treatment at the state’s biggest local community wellbeing centre.

Lawyers for Civil Legal rights, a Boston-based mostly group, on Tuesday submitted a official ask for for condition Legal professional Basic Maura Healey’s workplace and the condition Section of Community Wellbeing to jointly open a assessment into the East Boston Community Health Center’s compliance with civil legal rights and public wellbeing laws.

Patricia Montes, head of Centro Presente, a Boston-dependent Latino group, suggests lousy healthcare treatment method at the Boston clinic has resulted in “misdiagnosis, worsened health situations, even dying.” Advocates say they’ve recognized about 10 impacted family members and men and women and are interviewing others.

In one particular circumstance cited in the ask for, a Honduran girl identified only as Maria A. stated she introduced her months aged infant to the clinic after he’d been crying and displaying other signals of health issues in July 2020.

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The loved ones was sent dwelling right after clinic staff concluded there were being no health-related fears, but the next day, the mom brought the child back again just after his ailment worsened, according to the investigation request.

Staff in the end called an ambulance to rush the child to yet another medical center crisis place, but he died, suffering what clinic staff members explained as “sudden toddler demise syndrome,” the ask for states.

In a further instance, a lady of Salvadoran descent determined only as Chloe F. went to the clinic complaining of upper body pain, tiredness, and heart palpitations previous November. Professional medical workers ran an electrocardiogram, decided the woman experienced an discomfort in her lungs and recommended her ibuprofen.

But when her problems worsened, the lady stated she sought procedure at yet another medical center and was identified with phase 3 lung cancer, according to the investigation request.

East Boston Community Overall health Centre declined to comment on individuals and other examples cited by the advocates. The clinic explained it sought a assembly with Centro Presente and the families it signifies when they first lifted the complaints very last thirty day period, but none agreed to fulfill.

It also explained it is launching a individual advocate business as element of a broader effort to “listen to our patient

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High medical bill in the ER leaves family reeling : Shots

Dhaval Bhatt plays Monopoly with his children, Hridaya (left) and Martand, at their home in St. Peters, Missouri. Martand’s mother took him to a children’s hospital in April after he burned his hand, and the bill for the emergency room visit was more than $1,000 — even though the child was never seen by a doctor.

Whitney Curtis for Kaiser Health News


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Whitney Curtis for Kaiser Health News


Dhaval Bhatt plays Monopoly with his children, Hridaya (left) and Martand, at their home in St. Peters, Missouri. Martand’s mother took him to a children’s hospital in April after he burned his hand, and the bill for the emergency room visit was more than $1,000 — even though the child was never seen by a doctor.

Whitney Curtis for Kaiser Health News

Martand Bhatt’s parents weren’t sure he needed immediate medical care when the energetic toddler burned his hand on the kitchen stove one April morning.

Dhaval Bhatt, Martand’s father, said he’d been warned about hospital emergency rooms after he arrived in the U.S. from his native India.

“People always told me to avoid the ER in America unless you are really dying,” said Bhatt, a research scientist and pharmacologist at Washington University in St. Louis.

But after seeing a photo, the family’s pediatrician directed them the next day to the local children’s hospital.

Dhaval Bhatt was traveling at the time. So Martand’s mother, Mansi Bhatt, took their son to the hospital and was sent to the emergency room. A nurse took the toddler’s vitals and looked at the wound. She said a surgeon would be in to inspect it more closely.

When the surgeon didn’t appear after more than an hour, Mansi Bhatt took her son home. The hospital told her to make a follow-up appointment with a doctor, which turned out to be unnecessary because the burn healed quickly.

Then the bill came.

The patient: Martand Bhatt, a toddler covered by a UnitedHealthcare insurance plan provided by the employer of his father, Dhaval Bhatt.

Medical service: An emergency room visit for a burn sustained when Martand touched an electric stove.

Total bill: $1,012. UnitedHealthcare’s negotiated rate was $858.92, all of which the Bhatts were responsible for because their plan had a $3,000 deductible.

Service provider: SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, one of 23 hospitals owned by SSM Health, a Catholic nonprofit health system with more

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What does ‘family’ imply for the holiday seasons? | Health and Physical fitness

At a session earlier this 12 months, my therapist reminded me that no experience is ultimate.  This phrase genuinely resonated with me as I am processing abuse and trauma from my organic spouse and children so I wrote it on a put up-it that I continue to keep on my desk.  Specifically throughout the holiday break year, we are flooded with so numerous emotions, some nice and some not so enjoyable.  We are informed regularly as a result of adverts missing a trauma-educated solution that we must be delighted for the duration of the holiday season and that the time is greatest expended with your household, which is invariably outlined as moms and dads, siblings and children. 

The continuous barrage of messages about how you are supposed to really feel at the holiday break year results in tension to suppress your thoughts and just set on your happy deal with as you try to make your way through the time.  What if you are estranged from your blood relatives or dread the confrontations that predictably happen at holiday break gatherings? A buddy of mine formulated post-traumatic anxiety dysfunction (PTSD) from the genuine physical battles that would occur at her mother’s household in the center of holiday getaway meals.  These battles sometimes necessitated ambulance visits thanks to the injuries.  As a consequence, to this day, she gets nauseous hunting at turkey and pumpkin pie.

The content ending to this story, while, is that this good friend made a decision to do some thing about these traumatic holiday break occasions and as a substitute now spends the holidays with her “logical family” or “chosen family” instead of her biological household.  But what exactly does “logical family” indicate? Reasonable family members accepts you for who you are and welcomes you no make any difference who you appreciate, what you are sporting or exactly where you are operating. Most importantly, rational family does not inform you how you really should come to feel or with whom you are obligated to spend the holiday seasons.

As Barbara Costello, Director of Outpatient Providers (Decide) at Taos Behavioral Wellbeing (TBH) commented, “Especially at holiday getaway time, self-treatment is exceptionally essential.  No matter what the situations you encounter, paying out time with the men and women you really like is essential – even if they are not family.”

So as you are preparing the subsequent couple of months

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