Arkansas’ public university hospital has sued thousands of patients over medical bills during the pandemic, including hundreds of its own nurses and employees

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As Covid cases spread in 2020, visitors to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences were greeted by a colorful sign put up by grateful neighbors outside the university’s medical center: “Heroes Work Here.”

The university adopted the message in glossy promotional videos it posted online, introducing viewers to individual nurses, doctors, and health workers who described their jobs. “Sometimes it’s easy for people who pass through here to see our frontline caregivers as the heroes, or our educators as the heroes – it’s really everybody,” Cam Patterson, the university chancellor, declared in one video. 

But at least a dozen of the “heroes” that UAMS featured in online advertisements and other videos weren’t just employed by the university – they’ve also been sued by it. 

UAMS, Arkansas’ flagship public health sciences university, has been aggressively suing thousands of former patients over medical debt in recent years, including hundreds of its own employees, a CNN investigation found. 

Since 2019, UAMS has sued more than 8,000 patients to collect on unpaid medical bills, according to court records. It filed more debt collection lawsuits in recent years than any other plaintiff in the Arkansas court system other than the state tax office.

The university’s use of the courts ballooned during the coronavirus pandemic. It filed 35 lawsuits in 2016 but more than 3,000 in 2021 – an average of nearly nine a day.

CNN reviewed court documents from thousands of UAMS lawsuits and identified more than 500 defendants who were listed as working for the university itself. The employees ranged from nurses and patient services associates to clinical technicians and lab workers to housekeepers and cooks.

Twenty people sued by UAMS, including more than a dozen current or former employees, spoke to CNN about their cases. Keri Whimper, a former UAMS medical assistant, said the university’s lawsuit against her – demanding a total of about $700 for a bill she thought had been covered by insurance – felt like a betrayal after she contracted Covid while working at the medical center.

“I worked for them through Covid, and they’re still doing this to me,” she said. “This really shows they don’t care about their employees at all.”

UAMS, which is part of the state government and is Arkansas’ largest public employer, operates a major teaching hospital in the state capital of Little Rock and runs clinics around the state. Its legal practices, which have not been previously reported, are an example of how aggressive medical debt collection efforts aren’t limited to corporate, for-profit hospitals.

Most of the lawsuits UAMS filed in recent years involved unpaid medical bills of about $1,000 or less, with some cases over as little as $100. In its complaints, the university tacked on hundreds of dollars of court filing fees, attorney fees, service fees, and interest charges, sometimes doubling or tripling the original amount owed. It moved to garnish defendants’ wages

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General public health unexpected emergency close could bring about hundreds of thousands to drop Medicaid coverage

Each morning when Christina Preston enters the West Neighborhood Prospect Centre, which serves Ohio’s Franklin County, she is aware she and her employees are going to be flooded with calls and purposes from people in desperate require of assistance.

Their despair could grow to be even far more acute next month as the countrywide public wellness emergency arrives to an finish. That could lead to hundreds of thousands of people’s getting rid of accessibility to Medicaid and other advantages.

“We’re organizing for it as greatest we can, but the way we’re seeking at it correct now is triage,” said Preston, the center director for one particular of the three area position and relatives products and services branches in Columbus. “I never even definitely want to envision it proper now. It is going to be enormous.”

Across the country, community companies like Preston’s are planning for the unraveling of the expanded social safety web that was created in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic — and, most considerably, the close of continual Medicaid protection, which expires Jan. 15, at the conclude of the community overall health unexpected emergency, unless the Biden administration extends it. 

The provision, a requirement below the Families First Coronavirus Reaction Act, which passed in March 2020, prevented states from eliminating Medicaid recipients from the program’s rolls. At the very least 11 million men and women have enrolled in Medicaid given that February 2020.   

Up to 15 million persons, which include just about 6 million small children, could be at danger of getting rid of their Medicaid eligibility when the safety expires, according to the Urban Institute, an economic and plan exploration think tank. The transform could have an outsize effect on communities of coloration, the Urban Institute concluded.

Several are very likely to be qualified for other varieties of backed coverage, the analysis observed, but there is a problem that few folks will know that they are in danger of shedding Medicaid and are suitable for other styles of overall health insurance policy. There have been couple attempts to talk this to people who are impacted, they mentioned, and not each and every state is approaching the trouble the identical way.

“The time to start planning for this was yesterday,” stated Cindy Mann, a lover at Manatt Overall health who was director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Products and services throughout the Obama administration. “We seriously really do not have extra time.”

In some circumstances, folks who will be scrambling to assess their eligibility and potentially striving to find new health care designs could be satisfied by states wanting for strategies to tighten their fiscal belts by aggressively taking away individuals from the Medicaid rolls. 

Contending with Medicaid disenrollment subsequent yr is “the looming monster,” claimed Preston, who in comparison it to the frustrating range of calls and cases close to the state when a file variety of persons produced unemployment requests. 

The hassle is that enrollees in crisis might also run into regional organizations

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Hays celebration will deliver cost-free dental care to hundreds

A dentist working at a previous Kansas Mission of Mercy event. Courtesy photo<br>
A dentist functioning at a prior Kansas Mission of Mercy occasion. Courtesy photograph

Hays Submit

The occasion that will present cost-free dental care to children and grownups will be coming to Hays on Feb. 18 and 19.

The Kansas Dental Charitable Basis has announced Hays as a area for its free dental clinic — the Kansas Mission of Mercy.

The occasion will be at the Ellis County Fairgrounds and call for 400 to 500 volunteers. This will involve about a 100 dentists, oral surgeons and dental hygienists, who will provide their providers free of charge of demand all through the party.

Doorways will open up for patient registration at 5:30 a.m. every single day. You do not have to give ID, evidence of money, evidence of insurance policy, authorized or residence position, or dental data to acquire care.

All people will be demanded to don a mask in the constructing irrespective of COVID vaccination status.

Some of the providers offered will consist of cleanings, tooth extractions and fillings, mentioned Niki Sadler, Kansas Dental Charitable Basis government director.

Because of to COVID, the clinic will be spacing out dental chairs a little farther than at some preceding events. A comparable party in Dodge City in 2020 served 822 clients and just one in Wichita in 2021 served 599 clients. The full donated products and services in Wichita in 2021 was additional than $774,000.

On the other hand, Sadler explained a lot of variables play in each individual calendar year to how several sufferers the party can provide.

Numerous of individuals who request care at the celebration have not found a dentist in a long time, Sadler said. Numerous have innovative dental condition as a end result, she explained.

The Kansas Mission of Mercy receives a $50,000 check from the Robert E. and Patricia Schmidt Foundation. Pictured from left are Hays Mayor Sandy Jacobs; Melissa Dixon, director for the Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau; Janet Kuhn, Hays CVB; Niki Sadler, director of the Kansas Dental Charitable Foundation; and Katie Dorweiler and Gary Shorman, representing the Schmidt Foundation.<br>
The Kansas Mission of Mercy gets a $50,000 test from the Robert E. and Patricia Schmidt Foundation. Pictured from remaining are Hays Mayor Sandy Jacobs Melissa Dixon, director for the Hays Conference and Visitors Bureau Janet Kuhn, Hays CVB Niki Sadler, director of the Kansas Dental Charitable Foundation and Katie Dorweiler and Gary Shorman, symbolizing the Schmidt Basis.

The occasion will be first appear, very first serve for older people. Internally the  committee will operate with well being department and nurses for appointments for youngsters, but the party will not flip kids away.

A lot more data will be launched as a result of the media on making appointments when the program is in location to begin scheduling appointment.

The event will will need to raise about $160,000 in dollars and in-sort donations. The Robert E. and Patricia Schmidt Foundation and the Delta Dental Basis have presently donated $50,000 each and every to the job.

People and regional organizations can donate as a result of the Kansas Dental Charitable Basis at

On Dec. 20, registration on that very same website will open up for volunteers. Quite a few non-dental qualified volunteers will be desired for the celebration, like men and women to serve foods to individuals and

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CVS Wellbeing to close hundreds of drugstores about next 3 yrs

CVS Wellbeing will shut hundreds of drugstores over the subsequent a few years, as the well being treatment big adjusts to switching customer needs and converts to new keep formats

The business mentioned Thursday that it will near about 300 retailers a calendar year for the next three a long time, nearly a tenth of its around 10,000 retail places as it cuts down retail store count density in some destinations.

CVS Wellbeing explained it has been evaluating population alterations, customer getting styles and potential health and fitness demands to “ensure it has the appropriate varieties of stores in the suitable locations.”

The enterprise released no particulars Thursday on the place the closings will come about. It did say they would get started upcoming spring.

Important drugstore chains routinely near underperforming merchants or shutter destinations for other organization desires. CVS rival Walgreens, for occasion, has closed numerous suppliers in San Francisco given that 2019 thanks partly to difficulties with arranged retail theft.

The development of on the internet buying has blunted the want for CVS and Walgreens to run a broad network of drugstores that are just a couple of minutes’ drive from most American households.

CVS Wellness also has neglected its retail small business and pushed some of its areas “into the downward spiral of irrelevance,” GlobalData Running Director Neil Saunders said in an e-mail.

“Too lots of suppliers are trapped in the past with terrible lighting, depressing interiors, messy merchandising, and a weak assortment of products,” Saunders mentioned in an email. “They are not places or locations the place persons go out of anything other than requirement.”

CVS Health said Thursday its outlets will be grouped into a few designs.

Some will be standard pharmacies that supply retail solutions as very well as some wellbeing treatment products and services. Many others will be focused to shopper key care, and the enterprise will split out an increased version of its “HealthHUB” places.

The company started out introducing those people merchants a handful of years ago. The stores are geared towards encouraging consumers keep an eye on persistent conditions like diabetic issues and continue to be on prime of their overall health. People locations can incorporate well being treatment workers like dietitians as well as community rooms for factors like yoga courses.

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