MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Methodist Hospital is promising big changes following backlash forsuing its poorest patients, including some of its own employees.
Earlier this month, the hospital made national headlines after MLK50editor Wendi Thomas’ investigation found Methodist filed more than 8300lawsuits for unpaid hospital bills during the past five years.
Now, Methodist says it will raise its minimum wage to $15-an-hourfor all associates over the next 17 months. And regardless of insurance status,Methodist says it will no longer file lawsuits against anyone at or below 250%of the federal poverty guidelines.
Plus, for eligible patients struggling with medical debt, Methodist says it will provide financial assistance.
(METHODIST LE BONHEUR HEALTHCARE NEWS RELEASE) – Today,Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare announced a series of initiatives aimed atexpanding their part in uplifting the financial health of their Associates,patients and the community.
“Nationally, and here at home, a conversation is occurring aboutelevating those in need and caring for medically underserved patients.Methodist is working to do our part to be a positive force for change in thisimportant conversation,” said Michael Ugwueke, President and CEO, Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare. “We work each day to improve every life we touch byuplifting our Associates, patients and the community.”
Ugwueke noted that Methodist’s leaders recently led more than 20listening sessions to hear directly from Associates, physicians and patientsabout how the health system can do more to fulfill their responsibility tocontributing to the economic wellbeing of those they serve.
“At our core, we are a learning organization committed tocontinuous growth. We are now taking another step in our journey to uplift ourAssociates, patients and the community we serve,” said Ugwueke. “Through thisprocess, we were humbled to learn that while there is so much good happeningacross our health system each day, we can, and must, do better.”
Methodist announced new initiatives to provide expanded opportunitiesfor its Associates as well as an updated financial assistance policy.
Methodist’s commitment to Associates is a holistic approach basedon two pillars: raising minimum wages and partnering with their Associates toprovide career paths that lead to professional growth and greater financialsecurity.
Over the next 17 months, Methodist will raise their minimum wageto $15 an hour for all Associates. Effective in September of this year, minimumwages will increase from $10.08 to $13.50 and by January 2021, minimum wagewill become $15.00 an hour.
Methodist’s commitment to uplifting their Associates does not stopthere, and a wage increase is just the starting point. To be a real catalystfor change, Methodist has committed to creating more opportunities forinterested Associates to gain the skills, experience, knowledge, and educationneeded to advance to even higher paying positions.
“Our culture is built on the Power of One. It’s the idea that eachof us – no matter our role or position within the health system – has the powerto make a difference in the lives of our patients, their families and eachother. With our Associate advancement effort, we are working to build on ourculture by creating opportunities for our Associates to have a more financiallysecure and rewarding future,” said Ugwueke.
Patient Financial Assistance
To better fulfill their mission of caring for all members of thecommunity, Methodist will be updating their financial assistance policies.
Methodist completed a 30-day review process to evaluate how theyare currently helping patients who are struggling with medical debt. As part ofthis process, Methodist conducted more than 20 listening sessions withAssociates, physicians and patients, engaged a third-party expert to conductthe review and suspended court collection proceedings during the review period.
The review compared Methodist’s billing and collections practicesto those of other similar sized, urban, mission-driven healthcareorganizations, with careful consideration given to the diverse population thatMethodist serves.
Methodist will be making the following changes to their financialassistance policy:
Uninsuredpatients with income up to 250% of the federal poverty guidelines will beeligible for financial assistance, an increase from the current threshold of125%.
Regardless ofinsurance status, Methodist will no longer pursue legal action against anyonewho is at or below 250% of the federal poverty guidelines.
Methodist will nolonger accept court ordered interest on medical debt, and we will no longercollect court allowed attorney fees and court costs from any patient.
“Our updated policy will better reflect the needs and circumstancesof those we serve. More importantly it will help us better care for all membersof the community. With our revised policy, families of three with a householdincome of $53,325 or less, will have access to financial assistance. Thisrepresents more than half of the population of greater Memphis,” said Ugwueke.
To learn more, please visit methodisthealth.org.
The updated financial assistance policy will go into effect August2019, and Methodist will immediately begin the process of implementing thesechanges.