Judge orders hospital overcharging lawsuit to proceed

swedishA King County judge has ruled a lawsuit should go forward that alleges Swedish Hospital overcharged thousands of uninsured emergency room patients.  On Tuesday, King County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell ordered the litigation should proceed as a class action lawsuit.

In the case, the plaintiff alleges Swedish Health Services breached contracts with uninsured patients and was “unjustly enriched, and violated the Washington Consumer Protection Act by charging uninsured patients unreasonable and excessive fees” for emergency room treatment and care.  The lawsuit also alleges Swedish charged uninsured patients higher fees than patients covered by private insurance or government programs.

At the same time, the U.S. Department of Justice has announced a Tacoma-based health care provider will pay a $14.5 million settlement, after it was alleged to have overbilled Medicare and other federal health care programs.

The agreement involving Sound Inpatient Physicians Inc., an employer of over 700 health care workers at local hospitals and clinics, addresses allegations that between 2004 and 2012, the health care provider submitted inflated claims to federal health benefit program services.  The services were provided by “hospitalists”, or physicians who provide care exclusively to hospital inpatients and have no office or outpatient practice.

 

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