Vancouver-based health care and hospital services provider PeaceHealth announced Monday it has reached an agreement with the state attorney general’s office regarding the Charity Care Law.
PeaceHealth said that since 2018, it has provided $258 million in charity care to 66,338 patients. Under the recent settlement agreement, PeaceHealth will pay around $4 million to reimburse an additional 4,000 patients who did not apply for assistance or respond to outreach.
Washington’s Charity Care Law ensures that residents whose incomes fall within 300 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for financial assistance on hospital bills. These protections apply to all out-of-pocket hospital costs, including co-pays and deductibles, regardless of insurance status.
“PeaceHealth is committed to identifying every single person who can benefit from charity care,” according to a statement from PeaceHealth’s general counsel, Tom Karnes. “We welcome this opportunity to continue to lead the way in charity care, providing physical and financial healing to the most vulnerable in our communities.”
In addition to the $4 million in additional patient reimbursements, PeaceHealth will now screen patients for financial assistance for hospital-based services by inquiring upon registration about the patient’s household income and size. It will also notify eligible patients to seek similar reimbursement for past payments, and pay $2 million in costs and attorney fees.
Karnes added, “Rather than expending time and resources on litigation, we entered into an agreement so that we can continue with our healing mission and commitment to health justice.”
PeaceHealth’s local hospitals are PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver and PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center in Longview.
This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.