Refunds to 2,100 Washingtonians, debt relief to patients of Kitsap County clinics
OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced that CHI Franciscan will provide more than $1.1 million in healthcare cost relief after an investigation into mislabeled charges and inadequate fee disclosures.
CHI Franciscan operates three urgent care clinics in Kitsap County that charge a facility fee due to their affiliation with the hospital. The clinics must disclose the fee to patients through a variety of methods, including identification on the clinic’s website, signage at the clinic and a notice provided to patients before they receive care.
The Attorney General pursued an investigation based on evidence that Franciscan did not meet its obligation to disclose this fee.
“Consumers deserve to have all the information they need to make informed choices, especially in the confusing healthcare billing process,” Ferguson said. “When providers don’t live up to their obligations to provide that information, my office will hold them accountable.”
In addition, the Attorney General investigated concerns that CHI Franciscan mislabeled facility fees as emergency room fees during a three month period in 2015.
The mislabeling caused insurance companies to apply emergency room co-pays and patient responsibility percentages, rather than less-expensive urgent care rates. This resulted in some patients paying more than $300 in out-of-pocket expenses that should have been covered by an insurance provider.
The 2,138 patients who were improperly billed received refunds and bill reductions totaling $107,294. Patients who were incorrectly charged have already received refunds or had their bills corrected by Franciscan.
As a result of the Attorney General’s investigation, CHI Franciscan also is forgiving $995,515 in outstanding patient debt from July 1, 2014 to Aug. 19, 2016, removing patients’ obligations to pay. Consumers receiving debt relief will be notified within 60 days.
CHI Franciscan will also pay $55,000 to cover the state’s costs and fees for the investigation. Franciscan has now corrected its billing and notification practices, and it formally agrees to do so in a legally binding Assurance of Discontinuance filed this week in Thurston County Superior Court.
Assistant Attorney General Dan Davies handled this case.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Peter Lavallee, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; PeterL@atg.wa.gov