I’m Fighting the North Carolina Healthcare Cartel
North Carolina hospitals have successfully sued thousands of patients and their families for $57 million in medical debt, according to a report released by Duke University and my state treasurer’s office on August 17. Our report that found that more than 7,500 North Carolina patients and family members were sued over medical debt over the past five years. In the SHP report, 71 of the 140 hospitals reviewed disclosed commercial insurance prices for the 16 medical procedure categories, while 59 disclosed the out-of-pocket costs. More than 90% of the hospitals most aggressive in pursuing lawsuits against patients are nonprofits with a mandate of providing free or discounted care to North Carolina’s poor, resulting in 5,922 lawsuits against patients.
These legal successes have been to the detriment of many of those patients, some of whom did not know they had been sued over medical debt in the first place. In addition to the threat of losing equity in their homes, many individuals with medical debt also face other risks. Those facing mounting health care bills were more than twice as likely to become food insecure and three times as likely to be evicted or face a foreclosure.
Thousands of families have lost their upward mobility to hospital lawsuits, but we don’t even know if they were sued over inflated prices. When patients tried to fight back, they argued that they could not even tell whether they had been charged a fair price. The reality is that hospitals are not transparent on pricing with patients. Three people can walk into the same facility and get the exact same service or benefit or product and possibly charged be charged three wildly different prices for it.
The report shows that North Carolina hospitals levy massive price markups of up to 1,120% on routine care and basic services, and the most expensive hospitals charged commercially insured patients as much as 1,670% more than other hospitals for the same service. Too many North Carolina hospitals are violating federal rules to hide their prices from patients.
I’m pushing for the full passage of my Medical Debt De-Weaponization Act (Senate Bill 321), seeking to require large providers to post their price information.
We are dealing with hospital CEOs who give the middle finger to the IRS rules that say they are supposed to provide charity care equal to the tax benefit they receive.
You can read more on my fight against the healthcare cartel and the report findings:
The contracts prove that these hospitals are being compensated on profits, not patients. Every citizen is impacted, especially those that participate in the state health plan. The healthcare cartel is impacting everyone, including those who teach, protect or otherwise serve taxpayers.
As your next governor, I pledge to always fight for common sense conservatism and better government.