Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today wrote to the University of Virginia (UVA) Health System regarding a recent news report in Kaiser Health News
outlining its potential failure to live up to its legal obligations as a tax-exempt organization.
The UVA Health System is tax-exempt and therefore must serve community health needs, provide financial assistance, limit amounts charged for medically-necessary care and refrain from extraordinary collection actions against patients eligible for financial assistance.
“Unfortunately, I have seen a variety of news reports lately discussing what appear to be relentless debt-collection efforts by tax-exempt hospitals, including UVA Health System. These efforts raise questions about how UVA Health System and other tax-exempt hospitals are complying with these requirements,” Grassley wrote. “In addition to having concerns about UVA Health System’s financial-assistance and debt-collection practices, I am also concerned about how patients’ hospital bills get so high in the first place.”
Grassley raises several questions regarding UVA Health System’s debt-collections history and process, charity care and financial assistance offered, patients’ rights and transparency guidelines, potential overcharging and process for determining its prices.
Earlier this year, Grassley announced
he was renewing his probe of non-profit, tax-exempt hospitals. Grassley has been a leader
in Congress in the effort to lower health care costs, recently introducing
sweeping, bipartisan legislation to lower prescription drug prices.
In 2015, Grassley conducted
an investigation into the Mosaic Life Care hospital system, which was suing low-income patients to force them to pay their hospital bills even when those patients were eligible for financial assistance and discounted treatments. As a result of that investigation
, Mosaic Life Care established a three-month debt forgiveness period in which patients could apply or re-apply for financial assistance, forgave the debt of 5,070 patients, and hired more employees to help low-income patients apply for financial assistance.
Grassley’s full letter to UVA Medical Center can be found HERE