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Last updated on Thursday, June 23, 2011
(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) - A liberal watchdog group says Marion County Hospitals should do a better job of telling patients their options for reducing their costs.
The tax-exempt status of Marion County's four nonprofit hospitals, I.U. Health, Saint Vincent, Saint Francis and Community requires them to provide some free or reduced-cost care for low-income patients.
But the law doesn't specify how much.
The Citizens Action Coalition Education Fund complains they should do more, and that they don't do enough to advise patients charity care is available.
CACEF's Julia Vaughn labels Saint Francis's Charity Care Policy the weakest of the four.
She charges the hospital has been overaggressive in seeking payments from patients who might be eligible for discounts, without advising them of those rights.
In a series of forums hosted by CACEF and Indiana Legal Services, Vaughn says her group collected 93% complaints about Saint Francis-Beech Grove's bill collection, far more than any of the other hospitals.
One patient claims he went to the emergency room fearing he was having a stroke, and charges a nurse demanded that he first explain a past-due bill on his account.
A Saint Francis Spokesman says the hospital will issue a statement later Wednesday.
CACEF hand-delivered a request to Attorney General Greg Zoeller requesting an investigation of both Saint Francis's Charity-care policies and the patient complaints.
A Spokesman says Zoeller's office will review the request.
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