ONTARIO, Calif., March 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP (MWA) — an Inland Empire-based firm specializing in matters including consumer class actions and catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death, filed a class action lawsuit against St. Joseph Hospital Orange, St. Joseph Health, and Paratus Partners LLP (the St. Joseph Defendants) on March 4, 2020 in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. The complaint seeks to represent all Medicare recipients against whom the St. Joseph Defendants have asserted liens beyond Medicare reimbursement rates.
When healthcare providers contract with government insurance programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, they collect only the agreed-upon reimbursements from those programs. "Balance billing," or collecting the contractual reimbursement and then billing the patient for the remainder of what the hospital decides to charge for its services, is illegal. But this is what the St. Joseph Defendants have done to the plaintiff and what is believed to be many similarly vulnerable California citizens.
In the case described in the complaint, the plaintiff was struck by an automobile while crossing the street. She suffered through an intense recovery period, and now faces years of additional therapeutic recovery. The accident has had a severe impact on her ability to care for herself and has unavoidably increased her cost of living. Nevertheless, St. Joseph retained third-party agent Paratus Partners LLC, an aggressive debt collector, to recover additional funds from the plaintiff above and beyond the agreed-upon Medicare reimbursement rates. After discovering that the plaintiff had entered into a settlement with the driver who injured her, the St. Joseph's Defendants sent letters to the plaintiff claiming that she owed the St. Joseph Defendants nearly $200,000. In cases such as these, the St. Joseph's Defendants know or should know they are not entitled to obtain additional funds above and beyond Medicare reimbursement, but the complaint alleges that they assert these liens in bad faith to force the plaintiff (and others like the plaintiff) to settle the improper liens.
"Healthcare already comes to many as an economic hardship, but especially so when unforeseen accidents occur," commented Founding Partner Richard McCune, who leads the firm's class actions practice. "Victims end up in the emergency room to be treated for life-threatening injuries, then undergo prolonged hospital stays, all through no fault of their own. We cannot allow health providers to exploit these situations for their own economic benefit beyond their contracted or statutory rights. We intend to help our client stop this misuse of lien rights in personal injury settlements and protect her and other vulnerable individuals from similar abuses."
About McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP: The largest consumer firm based in California's Inland Empire region, McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP has a deep history of success for its clients, including a $203 million verdict against Wells Fargo Bank, recovery of over $1 billion for its clients, and over 100 contingency cases with recovery of $1 million or more. MWA maintains offices in Ontario, San Bernardino, Palm Desert, and Irvine, California, and supports its national practice with offices in Illinois and New Jersey. For over 30 years, MWA has successfully represented clients in serious cases. Visit mccunewright.com for more information.