Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Apr 03 2018

Dear Friends,

Washingtonians deserve to be treated fairly when they decide to spend their hard-earned dollars. In March, I took legal action against companies in the health care and financial industries for deceiving patients and seniors. This unfair treatment cost individual consumers up to tens of thousands of dollars. I am holding these powerful interests accountable.

I will also hold the federal government accountable when it tries to undermine its duties mandated by the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution requires the Census Bureau to count every resident – whether they are citizens or not. The Trump Administration’s decision to add a question about citizenship status will harm our state, so I joined a multistate lawsuit to remove it.

When laws need to be improved to protect our residents, I will make sure I do all that I can to reform them. Child pornography victims have suffered unthinkable trauma, and it’s time that Congress made it easier for them to receive the restitution they deserve.

In this issue:

Thank you for following the work of the Attorney General’s Office.

Sincerely,

 

 

Bob Ferguson
Washington State Attorney General


Ending company’s “trust mill” scheme for deceiving hundreds of seniors

If bad actors try to make a profit by deceiving consumers, I will hold them accountable. This March, I filed a lawsuit against CLA Estate Services, Inc. for operating a “trust mill.”

The company’s insurance agents sometimes posed as investment advisors and convinced retirement-age Washingtonians to buy complex financial products that they did not adequately describe. Because some agents did not fully disclose different aspects of the financial products, such as annuities, many seniors incurred substantial penalties for withdrawing funds early to cover living expenses. Some agents falsified seniors’ financial information to ensure that insurance companies would approve their applications.

Many seniors incurred tens of thousands of dollars in penalties related to early withdrawal or transfers suggested by agents, while the company and its agents made hundreds of thousands of dollars in commissions. I took CLA to court to stop its unlawful conduct. If you wish to file a complaint against the company, contact my office.

 

KATU News 
Washington attorney general says local salesman, company misled seniors

KOMO News  
State lawsuit accuses estate-planning company of being a deceptive "Trust Mill"


Recovering funds for patients with unexpected, undisclosed health care costs

My office is getting money back into the pockets of patients who receive and pay unfair bills.

Health care can be complicated, and it can become even more so when unexpected charges show up on your medical bills. Patients deserve to know what to expect from their medical bills, but more than 6,400 Premera Blue Cross members recently received hundreds of thousands of dollars in total unexpected charges after visiting Providence Health & Services or its affiliated Swedish Health Services.

Providence’s Western Washington facilities and Swedish facilities exclusively use CellNetix for pathology testing. When Premera pulled the lab from its network, the facilities failed to inform their patients, despite having months of advance notice of the change. And despite receiving complaints from many patients, including Providence’s own staff members, neither Providence nor Swedish took any action to notify patients.  

As a result of my office’s investigation, Providence and Swedish will return almost $400,000 to patients who paid out-of-network costs. Those patients will receive checks at the address that CellNetix has on file. The companies will pay an additional $1 million to cover the costs of the investigation and case and to fund future consumer protection efforts.

 

KIRO 7 – Jesse Jones 
Attorney General Ferguson settles lawsuit with Swedish, Providence

The Seattle Times 
Providence, Swedish services to pay $1.4M over lab-work complaint


Fighting for an accurate count in the 2020 Census

The Constitution requires the U.S. Census Bureau to count every resident of the United States every 10 years, regardless of his or her immigration status. The current presidential administration is threatening the accuracy of the 2020 Census by adding a question about citizenship status. The Census Bureau’s own research indicates that adding this question could suppress participation, resulting in a lower count particularly in immigrant communities, and jeopardize federal funding that we receive for school, food assistance, health insurance and more.

I joined a multistate coalition to challenge the Trump Administration’s unlawful decision. Washington’s immigrant community is an integral part of our state, and we deserve to receive our fair share of federal funding no matter who decides to call our state home.

 

KIRO 7 
Ferguson to sue Trump administration over Census question about citizenship

SeattlePI 
AG Ferguson to Trump: See you in court (again)

The Spokesman-Review 
Washington to join challenge to 2020 census citizenship question

 

Urging Congress to support victims of child pornography

Child pornography victims have gone through things that are unimaginable for many of us and deserve to hold the people who harmed them accountable. That is why I led a coalition of 54 state and territorial attorneys general urging leaders of of the U.S. House of Representatives and its Judiciary Committee to pass the Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act. A similar bill passed the U.S. Senate in 2015, but did not pass the House.

The act would make it easier for victims of child pornography to obtain restitution. As it stands now, victims of child pornography must pursue each individual found to have images of him or her and may only receive a small amount of restitution from each individual. This means that a victim would need to pursue potentially thousands of cases to receive full restitution. The bill improves the law by giving victims a choice in the type of assistance that will help them most, whether they want to pursue defendants in court or not, and gives them support throughout the court process.

 

The Seattle Times 
U.S. House must support child-pornography victim restitution

 
 

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