Business Profile. GREENEVILLE — A federal anti-trust lawsuit has been filed against Ballad Health, ETSU Physicians, and all 11 members of Ballad’s board of directors. This was done out of extreme frustration, according to the lawsuit. JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) — A motion has been filed to dismiss a lawsuit previously filed in April against Ballad Health and its volunteer board members. “You pay the light bill or you pay Ballad Health.”. Ballad executives could not discuss specific lawsuits without signed privacy releases from patients, but CEO Alan Levine, said in Sparrow’s case, all of the protocols were followed. The not-for-profit health system has also filed roughly 900 liens in two Tennessee counties since it was formed. Ballad, which operates the only hospital in Wise County and 20 others in Virginia and Tennessee, filed more than 6,700 medical debt lawsuits against patients last year. Ballad Health has provided more than 27,600 doses in Northeast Tennessee, amounting to more than 59% of the 46,275 vaccinations provided in those counties as of … Krutak said Ballad wouldn't sue patients or guarantors on the bill who are unemployed, making minimum wage or going through bankruptcy. JOHNSON CITY — Ballad Health acted on Monday to dismiss a federal anti-trust lawsuit filed against it and all 11 members of Ballad’s board of directors. Gray seeks $1 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages and claims her firing violates the Tennessee Whistleblower Act. The lawsuit alleged that three members of the Ballad Health board of directors had a conflict of interest by also serving as ETSU trustees/officers, since Ballad competes with ETSU Physicians. GREENEVILLE — A Scott County, Virginia, woman has filed a $3 million lawsuit against Ballad Health, claiming she was wrongfully terminated from her position after she spoke out against the company. Viewed as a percentage of patient accounts, 0.55% were sued in fiscal 2019, compared with 0.56% in fiscal 2018, Levine said. Have an opinion about this story? Our next installment in this four-part series explores the safety and quality issues residents say are brought on by staffing inadequacies. Ballad Health sued thousands of patients in poor, rural area “Ballad Health is very focused on attacking the root causes of a lot of health issues in the region, particularly the opioid crisis, access to care, behavioral health,” he said. “I am 100% certain in the cases that you provided to us, that that is not the case.”. “That’s why we have copious notes on all of these accounts and review everything before we decide to send it through legal proceedings,” she said. “They see the attempts we’ve made to try to work with those patients,” she said. Next Up Podcast: COVID-19, social determinants highlight health inequities — what next? "There is no defense to hand a scalpel to somebody who's not licensed,” Levine said. Santore is also representing 10 local residents who filed a class action lawsuit against Ballad Health, ETSU Physicians and all 11 members of Ballad’s board of directors. 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There could have been one for me and I could have handled the problem then, versus them having to go through this measure to sue me.”. Ballad Health. Following is a timeline of events, as listed in the lawsuit, that ensued in 2019: January — Gray was supposed to receive a 2% pay raise, but rather she received a lump sum increase. To view our latest e-Edition click the image on the left. “We can pull up stories and give them to you,” he said. The federal lawsuit claims a conflict of interest and possible anti trust law violation because certain members of the Ballad Health Board of Directors also sit on the Board of Trustees for ETSU. In Tennessee, median incomes in those counties Ballad serves are $10,000 to $20,000 less than the statewide average. March — When Gray attempted to reach two coworkers during an emergency, she accidentally left an outburst on one of their voicemails. But as more patients cover the cost of healthcare because of high-deductible plans or out-of-network billing, more hospitals will need to find ways to address uncompensated care. Part 2 of a four-part series examining how competing truths over consolidation impact a health system and its community. Most of Ballad’s lawsuits are in Washington and Sullivan counties, where its two largest hospitals, Johnson City Medical Center in Johnson City and Holston Valley in Kingsport, are located. Ballad Health officials are asking a previously filed lawsuit against the health care provider and its volunteer members be dismissed. Though we’re now a merged system, we’re still working to bring all our operational areas together. It essentially caused her to be overworked and forced her to deal with argumentative staff inside and outside the operating room, the lawsuit states. “In doing so, Gray figuratively signed her own death warrant,” the lawsuit states. According to the lawsuit, Gray claims she was wrongfully terminated from her position in violation of the Tennessee Whistleblower Act. She worked at this job until her termination in April 2019. If the patient responds or tries to make payments during the collection period, Krutak said they should never end up in court. Prior to that ProPublica found that between 2014 and 2018, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in Memphis, Tenn., had filed more than 8,300 lawsuits against patients, whose wages were garnished as a result. Greeneville attorney Francis X. Santore Jr. is representing Gray in the matter. Ballad is the only hospital provider covering a mostly rural, 21-county, two-state region hit hard by the coal industry’s decline. GREENEVILLE — A federal anti-trust lawsuit has been filed against Ballad Health, ETSU Physicians, and all 11 members of Ballad’s board of directors. We help you make informed business decisions and lead your organizations to success. Ballad Health has provided more than 27,600 doses in Northeast Tennessee, amounting to more than 59% of the 46,275 vaccinations provided in those counties as of Monday, the release states. To find team member links and information previously located on the former Mountain States and Wellmont websites… Ballad Health issued this statement: Today, lawyers for Ballad Health filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against Ballad Health and its volunteer board members. The single mom said she made a payment in August 2018 and shortly after noticed her credit score plummeted from nearly 800 to below 600. That’s when she learned Ballad had sent her to collections. CINCINNATI (WJHL) — A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss a Danielle Sparrow is being sued by Ballad Health over a $1,300 medical bill. The garnishments are placed on local businesses that employ patients who owe Ballad money. Welcome, Ballad Health team members and physicians! The attorney representing 10 East Tennessee residents has filed an appeal of the group’s federal antitrust lawsuit against Ballad Health. Sparrow lives in Hawkins County. Shepard said he’s also seen Ballad increase the practice of garnishing wages. Contact Information. In short, the lawsuit seeks “I’ll say this in the strongest terms: If these stories are being used—I can’t go any further than that without a release,” he said. She called the collection agency right away. Other health systems have outsourced thousands of revenue-cycle employees to third parties while others employ one-off technology solutions. Ballad Health is an integrated healthcare delivery system serving 29 counties of Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Northwestern North Carolina and Southeastern Kentucky. She’s now busy raising three adopted children, ages 1, 3 and 5, all born drug-addicted, as well as three foster children, ages 9, 12 and 15. Innovation and disruption in healthcare. Ballad Health had no comment on the lawsuit. What residents see as a more aggressive collections tactic is just one of the issues post-merger that's of concern to the community. Gray said she self-reported it to her supervisor and was later given a verbal warning. A federal lawsuit was filed by a group of citizens challenging Ballad’s incestuous interlocking Board of Directors, in which the same people sit on Ballad’s board of … Modern Healthcare provided Sparrow's and Kirk's names and case numbers, along with those of other patients, to Ballad, and Levine said while he could not discuss the cases specifically without signed privacy releases from the patients, Ballad’s policies were consistently applied in each case. Apr 15, 2020 Updated Jul 6, 2020 GREENEVILLE — A Scott County, Virginia, woman has filed a $3 million lawsuit against Ballad Health, claiming she … They say they are simply trying to collect revenue that is the responsibility of the patient. Ballad Health. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print. “So here I am, just adopted three children … working as much as I can and now I’m being sued,” she said. “No phone calls, nothing in the mail, nothing,” she said. But Sparrow said before she received any collection notices, Ballad sued her in August. “The reality is that more people are getting free care now than before the merger, and that’s an indisputable fact,” Levine said. After that, she said the collection agency works with those patients for another 90 days. Facebook; Twitter; WhatsApp; SMS; Email; Print; Save; breaking. JOHNSON CITY, Tenn.—When Danielle Sparrow quit her job to care for her youngest son, she stopped making monthly payments on a 2017 hospital bill. Greene County Circuit Court Clerk Chris Shepard said he has "definitely" observed an uptick in Ballad lawsuits since the merger and has asked the county for $500 more in postage to mail court documents related to Ballad lawsuits. She said she called the collection agency and was told the bill was supposed to go to the Sullivan County Jail. Sign up for free enewsletters and alerts to receive breaking news and in-depth coverage of healthcare events and trends, as they happen, right to your inbox. “You’ve got a lot of people out there—especially after having a kid or the elderly—who don’t have the extra money set back and they’re being told, ‘You have to pay the bill in full or we’re going to take you to court,’ ” she said. “This is a national phenomenon.”. “We are human and that’s not to say that there are not circumstances where there’s an oversight or there’s a mistake—that can certainly happen,” he said. You have permission to edit this article. “Times get hard,” he said. Vaccination rates in Northeast Tennessee – as well as Southwest Virginia – far outpace state-wide averages in both Tennessee and Virginia, as well as the national averages. According Gray’s lawsuit, she was employed at Holston Valley Medical Center in February 2014 as a registered nurse in the cardiovascular surgical department. “This person’s collection notice came to my house,” she said. Appeal filed in Ballad Health antitrust lawsuit. The 38-year-old single mom, who lives in Church Hill, Tenn., said she was too overwhelmed at the time to call Ballad Health, and expected the health system would send her to collections on the remaining balance from her visit to Holston Valley Medical Center's emergency department in Kingsport for chest pain. Sparrow, the patient mentioned earlier in this story, believes Ballad makes mistakes communicating collection notices. Ballad Health acted on Monday to dismiss a federal anti-trust lawsuit filed against it and all 11 members of Ballad’s board of directors. The lawsuit also was filed against ETSU Physicians. GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — The plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against Ballad Health have filed an appeal after a judge dismissed the case. But in Greene County, most patients can’t afford to hire attorneys to fight the lawsuits, which would probably cost as much as their outstanding bills, Shepard said. Not-for-profit hospitals’ bad debt is projected to increase at least 8% this year as the high-deductible health plan trend continues, according to Moody’s Investors Service. There really are no industrywide standards for dealing with collections. Sabrina Gray filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Greeneville in February. That's true. Ballad’s goal is to help every patient it can, Levine said. She was confused because neither she nor her children have been to the emergency department this year. Her youngest adopted son has a rare disorder called Smith-Magenis syndrome, the features of which include intellectual disability, delayed speech and behavioral problems like hair pulling, biting and head banging. Consolidated service lines, staffing issues, access to care and lack of transparency are others. To determine eligibility, Ballad will consider patients’ property value, car value, bank accounts and other investments. But layering different types of software can complicate matters and be extremely costly to providers. "Whistleblower" sues Ballad Health claiming wrongful termination, Kingsport homes for sale and property listings, Kingsport Homes for Sale and Property Listings. “They could hire someone just to keep up with garnishments,” Shepard said. Sparrow said she works part time for a grocery delivery service but can’t work full-time because she takes her son to at least four medical appointments each week, including physical, occupational, speech and feeding therapy. He said he doesn’t understand how the proprietors keep track of them all. She also said they wouldn't sue patients over 65 years old, or for very small or very large balances where there are likely extenuating circumstances. Ballad contacts a patient a minimum of seven times in the 120-day window between a late payment and sending them to collections, said Lynn Krutak, the system’s chief financial officer. She works as a telephone representative and just got a raise to $15 per hour. “On other hand, as a mission-driven organization that provides a lot of services to people who can’t afford to pay, as good stewards, we also have to try to collect from people who can pay,” he said. Patients are not eligible if their asset value exceeds $5,000, according to Ballad's financial assistance policy. A federal lawsuit was filed against both the East Tennessee State University Physicians Practice Group and members of the Ballad Health Board of Directors on April 12th. Sparrow said she did not once hear from a collection agency in any form before the lawsuit. 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Earlier this year, Atlanta-based Piedmont Health said it was trying to shave down its $250.7 million in bad debt by requiring patients who were responsible for their entire bill to pony up a quarter of the amount before receiving non-emergent services. Kirk said she is still in collections today. Meanwhile Dignity Health said it would streamline payment processing to settle bills in real time. 0 comments Share this. “The lady then informed me that I wasn’t allowed to make payments, that when the bill came in, it was my responsibility to pay it in full.”. “And frankly, it’s an issue of fairness for the people who do pay their bill that we do what is appropriate to ensure that other people who can pay their bill pay their fair share.”. The policy says patients “may” be eligible for partial discounts if their household incomes are between 225% and 450% of the federal poverty guidelines. Ballad’s … It was formed through a rare and controversial maneuver that was opposed by the Federal Trade Commission. Health Care. She said she recently received one that contained her address but a stranger’s name. Ballad Health Judge dismisses federal lawsuit against Ballad Health MATTHEW LANE, Kingsport Times News • Dec 12, 2019 at 9:15 AM GREENEVILLE — … In Virginia, they’re $20,000 to $35,000 less, according to data contained in the certificate of public advantage that allowed Ballad to form. Thursday, Alan Levine, the CEO of Ballad Health, gave his first interview on the incident. Ballad Health has provided more than 27,600 doses in Northeast Tennessee, amounting to more than 59% of the 46,275 vaccinations provided in those counties as of … 400 N. State of Franklin Road. Only $5 for 5 months A lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Greeneville alleges conflicts of interest and anti-trust violations involving board members of … He said other court clerks in the region have noticed the increase as well. If you look at Ballad’s lawsuit volume, they’ve been suing patients for a while, but back in 2010, it was about 3,600 lawsuits a year in the court records I examined. Ballad's bad debt in fiscal 2019 was $141.2 million. “I don’t like the way they deal with people.”. Ballad Health has provided more than 27,600 doses in Northeast Tennessee, amounting to more than 59% of the 46,275 vaccinations provided in those counties as of Monday, Jan. 18. Ballad, with 2,424 acute-care licensed beds, is the only hospital provider covering a mostly rural, 21-county, two-state region hit hard by the coal industry’s decline. The county's median household income is about $38,000, census data show. The lawsuit states that one of the pure heart operating rooms was converted to a hybrid room where different cardiovascular procedures were undertaken and as a result, Gray claims this gave more work to her and her coworkers, since they had to work both the heart and vascular cases. “I told her I shouldn’t be in collections because I have been making my payments like I was supposed to,” Kirk said. Ballad officials said they filed about 5,700 lawsuits against patients in its first fiscal year as a health system, which ended in June. After the merger, Ballad increased its charity care so that patients whose household incomes fall below 225% of the federal poverty guidelines now get care for free, compared with 200% before the merger, Levine said. “They could have sent my collection notice to someone else’s house. Ballad wins more than 99% of the cases it takes to court, meaning a judge agreed Ballad took the proper collection steps, Krutak said. Lisa Kirk, a 39-year-old Greeneville resident, said she had been making her $50 monthly payments on time from the 2015 hospital visit when she gave birth to her daughter. Levine said Ballad is no different from hospitals all over the country that are suing patients, and encouraged Modern Healthcare to Google it. Ballad has filed nearly 400 lawsuits in Greene County, where it has two hospitals. “What do I do?”. 400 N. State of Franklin Road. February — Gray spoke out at a public meeting at Northeast State Community College about the activities allegedly undertaken by Ballad Health in violation of the COPA. UVA Health System in Charlottesville, Va., recently faced backlash after a Kaiser Health News investigation found the academic health system sues approximately 6,000 patients each year. Johnson City, TN 37605 (423) 262-4763. The weekly magazine, websites, research and databases provide a powerful and all-encompassing industry presence. 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