TACOMA, Wash. (Legal Newsline) — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a lawsuit Sept. 5 against St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma for allegations of violating the state’s Consumer Protection Act by withholding charity from tens of thousands of low-income patients.
State law mandates that hospitals provide notice of charity care and that it screen eligible patients. All hospitals, including both for-profit and non-profit ones, must follow these laws.
According to allegations, former employees reported they were told to “never volunteer information about St. Joseph’s charity care program to patients, even if they were obviously low-income or homeless.”
Ferguson’s lawsuit, which was filed in Pierce County Superior Court, says the medical center failed to provide notice of its charity care, screen patients for eligibility and only require patients to provide one income-related document.
“St. Joseph unlawfully put obstacles in the way of tens of thousands of patients seeking access to affordable health care,” Ferguson said. “As attorney general, I’m committed to fighting for access to affordable care for all Washingtonians.”
Handling the case for Washington are assistant attorneys general Audrey Udashen and Robert Hyde.