In brief: UVA hospital makes amends, a yak on the run, and more

UVA Hospital System revamped its debt collection system just four days after the Washington Post wrote a story about it. (Photo: Skyclad Aerial) UVA Hospital System revamped its debt collection system just four days after the Washington Post wrote a story about it. (Photo: Skyclad Aerial)

Kinder, gentler health care

UVA Health System says it will revamp its financial aid guidelines and sue fewer patients after facing a massive backlash from a Washington Post story about the university’s proclivity to go after nonpaying patients.

A Kaiser Health News report revealed that from 2013 to June 2018, the state-owned health system sued former patients more than 36,000 times for over $106 million, seizing wages and bank accounts, putting liens on property and homes, and forcing families into bankruptcy. C-VILLE wrote in 2014 about those practices dating back to 2010.

The new policy prohibits litigation unless patients owe the hospital more than $1,000 and their household makes more than 400 percent of the federal poverty line.

Starting on January 1, UVA will also implement a new sliding scale for financial assistance for patients treated in July 2017 or later who have less than $50,000 in assets. Patients at or below the federal poverty level, as well as those up to 200 percent of the federal poverty line, will have their bills written off entirely.

The health system plans to ask the General Assembly to change the Virginia Debt Collection Act, which requires state agencies to aggressively collect unpaid bills. UVA officials used this act to defend the health system’s practices, claiming that they are legally required.

Though university lawyers dropped 14 medical debt lawsuits September 12, almost 300 cases remain on the Albemarle General District Court docket for this month.

According to spokesperson Eric Swenson, the health system will “review all the pending lawsuits” using the new financial assistance policy.

Quote of the week

I have more than I need. I’m blessed beyond what I deserve.—VA men’s basketball coach Tony Bennett, who turned down a raise after leading his team to its first NCAA championship ever in April, and asked that the increase go to his staff and athletic programs instead

In brief

Former Hoo drops suit

A former UVA student who alleged he was denied his degree because of a pending Title IX sexual misconduct investigation dropped his federal lawsuit against university officials September 11, according to court records. The male student, identified as “John Doe,” has since received his degree, and the Title IX investigation has concluded.

Protest regulation

A special events ordinance that inspired uproar at an August City Council meeting passed Monday. The ordinance was amended several times ahead of the 4-1 vote, eliminating a provision that banned the possession of glass bottles during demonstrations and the requirement of a $1 million liability insurance policy unless the event closes a street.

Another Riggleman rebuke

This time it’s the Rappahannock GOP, which censured 5th District Congressman Denver Riggleman for “failure to curb runaway spending and his support for importing foreign workers through the immigration system,” according to a release.

Courtesy of Laura Cooper

Yak on the lam

Meteor was en route to the butcher when he bolted in Lovingston September 10. The yak has been sighted multiple times since, but has eluded capture. A Nelson resident has offered sanctuary, should the animal be recovered.

Meteor was spotted outside the Nelson County Farm Bureau on September 11.

Artist diversity

The Fralin Museum of Art announced September 12 that it will commit to featuring underrepresented artists in at least half its shows. “Underrepresented” is defined as those with diverse racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, indigenous, disabled, socioeconomic, geographic, religious and/or age identities.

Airbnb revenue

Hosts renting their homes made $3.7 million in income on 25,000 guests in Charlottesville, according to Airbnb. The question Todd Divers, the commissioner of revenue, will ask: Did they pay the city’s transient occupancy tax?

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Not to mention the fact that UVA is a learning hospital. So most patients don’t know that their will be a dozen students watching your procedure and typically the doctor will pass the scalpel to a few students to cut on you so they can get some experience. Worth the cost?