Charity Care

January 31, 2017

Washington’s hospitals are committed to ensuring patients get the hospital care they need regardless of their ability to pay for that care. Providing health care to those that cannot afford to pay is part of the mission of Washington’s hospitals, and state law requires hospitals to provide free and discounted inpatient and outpatient care. To assist patients, WSHA has developed a standard financial assistance application form and a standard plan for communicating about financial assistance (charity care). About 90% of hospitals have committed to using the forms and are currently implementing the application and communication plan.
Legislation has been introduced that would mandate new and potentially burdensome written and oral notification requirements. The proposed legislation in HB 1359 and SB 5231 (companion bills) would mandate hospitals to add a specific, large print statement on all bills and financial notices in multiple languages and mandate scripted oral statements about financial assistance in English and other languages during any conversation related to billing or collections. Hospitals currently provide notice about charity care via signs, paper and electronic documents, information on websites, notices on billing statements, and staff trained to assist if a patient expresses concern about paying hospital bills. While we support the goal of having patients notified of their financial assistance options in a timely manner, the proposed legislation is not an effective way to meet that goal. (Zosia Stanley)
Senate Health Care: Tuesday, January 31, 10:00 a.m. (SB 5231) House Health Care & Wellness: Friday, February 3, 10:00 a.m. (HB 1359)


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