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"Yale, Don't Lien on Me"
The attack on homeownership by the Yale-New Haven
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Yale School of Medicine

Uncharitable Care:
Yale-New Haven Hospital's Charity Care and
Collections Practices

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Charity and Collections
at Bridgeport Hospital

About the Hospital Debt Justice Project

The Hospital Debt Justice Project was founded by uninsured and underinsured patients to end abusive hospital debt collection practices and discriminatory pricing by Yale-New Haven Health Systems.  Associated with the Connecticut Center for a New Economy (a state-wide community-based organization devoted to the working poor) HDJP was organized on the heels of the March 2003 release of the report "Uncharitable Care." That report uncovered widespread abusive debt collection tactics by the state's largest and wealthiest "safety-net" hospital system against patients without adqequate insurance. Y-NHH's tactics include garnishing wages, seizing bank accounts, foreclosing and placing liens on homes, forcing patients into bankruptcy and even arresting them, while refusing to provide millions of dollars in charity care to those in need.

The release of the report was followed by widespread media coverage of the issue, including high-profile stories in the Wall Street Journal. 

That report also prompted a lawsuit by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal against Yale-New Haven Hospital and subsequent lawsuits by patients for the hospital’s fraudulent misuse and denial of charity care to patients without adequate health insurance.

The Hospital Debt Justice Project has been working actively with other local groups and individuals, including Student Health Outreach (SHOUT), New Haven Legal Assistance, the Yale Law Clinic, Yale medical students, area clergy and the Health Care Union 1199/SEIU.

Lobbying by Hospital Debt Justice Project members led to the passage of a state law  SB 568, "An Act Concerning Hospital Debt Collection Practices."   sponsored by State Senator Martin Looney. The new law cut in half the amount of interest the hospitals could charge on medical debts and provided other patient protections.

Nationally, the Hospital Debt Justice Project collaborates with others concerned about how hospital debt contributes to our country’s health care crisis. Among these groups are the Access Project at Brandeis University in Boston, as well as by other grassroots community campaigns, such as the Champaign County Health Care Consumers in Illinois, the Service Employees International Union's Hospital Accountability Project in Chicago, The Oregon Health Action Campaign, the Tenants and Workers Support Committee in Alexandria, VA, Building Parent Power in Hartford, CT, and others.

Statement of Principles
As a tax-exempt, non-profit hospital system, Yale New Haven Health has an obligation to provide charitable health care to people in our community who need it. However, by its abusive debt collections practices, its refusal to make millions of dollars in free care available to many in need and the refusal of its Board of Trustees to be accountable to the public they claim to serve, YNHH has failed its charitable mission.

Despite YNHH’s claims that they have corrected the above practices, the abuses continue. It is clear that YNHH’s misdeeds are not simply a series of individual errors or oversights, but rather a crisis of YNHH’s policy and system. Therefore, we call on Yale New Haven Hospital and its affiliate Bridgeport Hospital to

  1. Immediately cease the practice of suing uninsured and underinsured patients to collect debt. YNHH must:
    • stop attaching patients’ wages,
    • stop seizing patients’ bank accounts and life savings,
    • stop arresting patients in order to force them into court, and
    • release all liens and fully abolish the use of this tactic.
  2. End charging uninsured patients higher prices than prices charged to insurance companies for the same services.
  3. Make all patients whole who would have qualified for charity care for any money paid to or seized by the hospital.
  4. Provide free care to eligible patients with inadequate insurance coverage as well as patients with no insurance.
  5. Remove bureaucratic barriers to applying for free care.
  6. Stop denying treatment to patients because they owe debt.
  7. Open its Board of Trustees’ decision-making processes to the community and ensure real public representation.

The above measures are no more than would be expected from a charitable, community hospital. If the Board of Trustees refuses to adopt these compassionate, responsible and reasonable proposals, then the Board must be reconstituted with real representation by the public to ensure that the charitable mission of our community hospital is fulfilled.

Hospital Debt Justice Project: 800 478-0635

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Join our fight!
If you suffer from unfair debt or collection practices from Y-NH Hospital, Yale School of Medicine, Yale Diagnostic Radiology or Bridgeport Hospital,
call 203 777-9880
or 800 478-0635
to share your story.