IBJNews

Groups call for probe of St. Francis hospital over charity care

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Two community organizations called Wednesday for the Indiana Attorney General’s office to investigate Franciscan St. Francis Health’s Beech Grove hospital to determine if it is following laws on extending financial assistance to low-income patients.

Citizens Action Coalition Education Fund and Indiana Legal Services Inc. claim that “a good number” of Indianapolis south-side residents who should have qualified for reduced or waived bills at St. Francis were instead steered into payments plans.

The groups claim to have documented 93 complaints against St. Francis However, they included only one example in a 62-page report on the financial assistance policies of Indianapolis' four major hospital systems, including St. Francis.

The two groups said all four hospital systems are not doing enough to publicize and make patients aware of charity-care policies that can reduce or even eliminate their hospital bills. Also, speedier application processes would help, the groups said.

In a July 2010 report, Citizens Action and Indiana Legal Services reported that out of 800 patients with hospital debt they interviewed in a non-scientific process, nearly half had never been told about the hospital’s financial assistance policies.

“While our meetings with hospital administrators indicate that most have good intentions when it comes to charity care, there is an obvious disconnect between their hospital’s written policies and its actual practices,” said Lindsay Helmbock, director of the Indianapolis Hospital Accountability Project being operated by Citizens Action and Indiana Legal Services, in a written statement.

The groups singled out St. Francis’ Beech Grove facility, which is one of three Indianapolis-area hospitals that are part of the Franciscan Alliance, based in Mishawaka.

The groups’ latest report includes a story about Charles Melton, who received two surgeries at St. Francis Beech Grove in April 2010. When the bills arrived, he applied for financial assistance, but says the only return communication he received was a bill stamped as a final notice demanding payment.

So Melton set up a payment plan, sending $226 monthly to St. Francis. Health issues forced Melton to retire in January 2011, and he again asked St. Francis for financial assistance. St. Francis asked him to file another application, and further requests for paperwork have dragged out the process until today.

“Much of our consumer outreach has focused on the south side of Indianapolis, St. Francis’ main service area, so we have heard numerous horror stories about their harsh collection practices and failure to provide information about financial assistance to those in need,” the report states, without identifying any other specific stories.

Franciscan St. Francis issued a written response to the report, saying: "While we are confident in our financial assistance programs and our efforts to communicate these programs to patients, we hope to meet with representatives of the Coalition to work through the report and determine areas for suggested improvements. Like other hospitals, Franciscan St. Francis Health has a process to determine if a payment plan or charity care will be required. Every year we work with thousands of patients on a case-by-case basis who have difficulty paying their bills."
 

ADVERTISEMENT

  • They are still doing it!
    St. Francis is still practicing the same process. They do not offer assistance and instead force people into payment plans. AND...if you have multiple accounts and they set you up on the payments plan you better make sure they combine the accounts like they say. St. Francis is the worst hospital to deal with as far as billing. For several months now they have screwed up the insurance submittals and the payment plan. We've had to talk to several billing "specialist" and they still have it screwed up. We are making our monthly payments every month but they still sent us to collections because they didn't combine the accounts into 1 account. We are going to contact an attorney.
  • How is this a story?
    A 62-page report with ONE instance of an issue with St. Francis and the IBJ headline buys into the premise these two groups are making, rather than questioning how accurate the report is. Even the information from 2010 was a "non-scientific process", so how valid is that? I don't understand what credibility this so-called report has. I expect more thorough research and balanced reporting from the IBJ, rather than what amounts to a press release for Citizens Action Coalition.
  • mistyped
    Sorry, didn't mean "poverty level".. I just meant that $40,000 (gross pay only) for a family of 3 is considered "low income".
  • Great hospital
    When I had my daughter in 2008, I was 22 and my husband was 24. Together we made about $40,000, which I believe now is below the poverty level. I was on STD for 13 weeks after the c-section, so I wasn't even making my full salary. After getting the first bill from St. Francis I called and asked if they offered a payment plan (they never tell you they do, on your bill or anywhere else). They gave me all the info and 2 days later I had all of the paperwork in my hands. They contract their payment plans interest-free for 1 year through a company called PFC in Greenwood (at least STF South does). I never had any issues with paying for medical care because a) my experience there was phenomenal, and b) I understand that's just how things work. Just because a hospital turned a profit at the end of the year (very rare for our current social & economic climate, btw) doesn't mean that they should take more charity cases. I gave my personal story in the beginning because if you look hard enough, NO ONE can "afford" medical care - even when it's planned. I feel for Mr. Melton because I'm sure he didn't want to be sick or broke, but if he had $226/month to spare I'm sure he wasn't the most down-trodden person that STF had to worry about. People abuse public assistance, Medicaid, even private insurance - and at the end of the day, the good people of the world and the hospitals both get screwed. The only way to live well today is to be jobless and get on every form of govt. assistance possible!
  • rob, rn
    I have been a patient here and think it is only the greatest. I will say that for every positive story about a hospital (any hospital) there is a negative story. I am just sorry that the article only focuses on one hospital. Let's be fair and look into others. Emergency depts are so abused that there are people who use it weekly and never pay a bill, while those of us who use it rarely pay 3 times as much!!Medicine needs lots of reforming!!
  • Rn
    I work for this health system. They treat the employee's the same way this guy was treated. One would think being a so called catholic hospital, charity would be a priority but just the opposite, my whole perception of religion was pretty much altered after working for this corrupt system

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. The Affordable Care Act is not the reason for the slow recovery and lack of high paying jobs for low skill workers. This is a trend that has been going since the early 80's. The recovery is real in the sense that GDP has been growing steadily at a rate of roughly 2.5% since the recession ended in late 2009 (newsflash, the stimulus worked) and the unemployment has been steadily dropping. The reason issue we are facing deals with a skills gap (not enough workers with the right credentials / experience) and wage stagnation due to corporate America being focused solely on maximizing profits for shareholders and not caring about the American middle class. Why should they? Multi-billion dollar mutlinational companies keep offshoring their profits in order to avoid paying taxes (which makes our deficit worse) they convince Americans to fight amongst themselves. If you want to create jobs and reduce the deficit, raise the minimum wage and change corporate tax laws. Of course, if you want to continue to belive that tax cuts for wealthy create jobs (which they don't) and allow corporations and the wealthy to continue to make you cover more and more of the costs of maintaining infrastructure, funding the military and other government services, then keep voting Republican. Hopefully someday you wake up and realize what's been going on since Reagan took office.

  2. Helloooooo, my name is Kate. I am so joyous to share this wonderful testimony about what Dr. Osoijiakhena, a great spell caster, did for me and my family. I wedded a year and 6 months ago, we were very happy during this whole period, i really love my husband so so much. I started noticing changes when he started coming home late at night, he stop paying attention to me, i later found out that he was having an affair with another lady, i dont know what she did to get to him but she really got a hold on him. He started spending weekends with her, and threaten for divorce. I was so heart broken and devastated, i spent many night thinking on how to get my husband back. A friend took it upon herself to to introduce me to one Dr. Osoijiakhena, a great spell caster, who once helped her with a spell that reunited her family and helped her husband secure a very prolific job. Though i had my doubts and never believed, but i decided to give it a try because i was helpless. I contacted Dr. Osoijiakhena, the Spell caster, to help me reunite my family by bringing back my husband from that other woman and break whatever hold she had on him. He only just told me that it's a minor issue, once i provide and do everything he will ask me to do, then i will have my family back again. I did everything he required. And he did it!!!!! My husband returned back to me and pleaded for forgiveness, and i also secured a well paid job in a big company, just as the great spell caster, Dr. Osoijiakhena said. I am so so happy to share my testimony on this wall. I am using this medium to tell every one that has same or similar problem to try the great Dr. Osoijiakhena through his mail: drosoijiakhenaspell@gmail.com......he is so real!!!!! He can also help you with: (1) IF YOU WANT YOUR EX GIRL/BOYFRIEND TO RETURN BACK TO YOU (2) IF YOU WANT YOUR HUSBAND/WIFE BACK (3) IF YOU WANT TO BE PROMOTED IN YOUR OFFICE (4) IF YOU WANT YOUR MAN OR WOMAN TO LOVE YOU (5) IF YOU WANT A CHILD (BARREN) (6) IF YOU WANT TO BE RICH/WEALTHY (7) IF YOU WANT YOUR HUSBAND/WIFE TO BE YOURS FOREVER (8) IF YOU'VE BEEN SCAMMED AND WANT YOUR MONEY BACK (9) IF YOU ARE HAVING DELAY IN GETTING MARRIED (10) IF YOU HAVE A COURT CASE AND WANT TO WIN (11) IF YOU'RE A DRUG ADDICT AND YOU WANT TO REALLY STOP (12) IF YOU CANNOT IMPREGNATE A WOMAN (STERILE) (13) ALL TYPES OF DISEASES I advise you to contact the great Dr. Osoijiakhena, the spiritualist for solutions via his email: drosoijiakhenaspell@gmail.com

  3. Sergeant McNally is buried in Cathcart Cemetery on a hill known as McNally%u2019 Hill. The Cemetery is in a natural bushland setting and is very well maintained.The emergency department at Ararat Hospital is known as the John McNally Emergency Department. Cathcart is approx. 4.6 km from Ararat and is approx. 345 m above sea level.

  4. My spring chicken of a Mom is turning 75 years young. She is a big fan of Frankie and I think she would get a big kick out of the film. I wanted to take her to the Broadway play but am priced out. Thanks for your time and consideration. Oh yea, Wildwood! Joie

  5. I thought this company would go bankrupt in 2013/2014. I predicted that four years ago. I was wrong. It will take another couple of years, but they will get there.

ADVERTISEMENT