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Single Payer Health Systems

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(35,037 posts)
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 09:21 AM Feb 18

Medical debt lawsuits clog courts as hospitals sue for unpaid medical bills [View all]

It's a payday the hospital and Hackler have shared frequently over the past three decades, records show. The records indicate McAlester Regional Medical Center and an affiliated clinic have filed close to 5,000 debt collection cases since the early 1990s, most often represented by the father-daughter law firm of Hackler & Hackler.

Some of McAlester's 18,000 residents have been taken to court multiple times. A deputy at the county jail and her adult son were each sued recently, court records show. New mothers facing bills after giving birth said they compare stories of their legal run-ins with the medical center.

In recent years, major health systems in Virginia, North Carolina, and elsewhere have stopped suing patients following news reports about lawsuits. And several states, such as Maryland and New York, have restricted the legal actions hospitals can take against patients.

But with some 100 million people in the U.S. burdened by health care debt, medical collection cases still clog courtrooms across the country, researchers have found. In places like McAlester, a hospital's debt collection machine can hum away quietly for years, helped along by powerful people in town. An effort to limit hospital lawsuits failed in the Oklahoma Legislature in 2021.


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