Allina Health, a large nonprofit health care system in Minnesota, announced Friday that it would stop withholding care from patients with outstanding medical debts as it changed its policy of cutting off services for those who have at least $4,500 in outstanding medical debts. accumulated debts again. bills.
The health system will now temporarily halt this practice, but will not restore care for indebted patients who have already lost access.
While Allina’s hospitals treated everyone in the emergency room, other services were closed to patients in debt, including children and those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and depression, NewsMadura reported last week. Patients were not allowed to return until they had paid off their debt in full.
Allina’s CEO, Lisa Shannon, called the move a “thoughtful pause” as the company reviewed its policy.
Dr. Matt Hoffman, a family physician for Allina in Vadnais Heights, Minnesota, said he was encouraged by the change and hoped Allina would eventually make more sweeping reforms in how it treats patients in debt.
“I hope this isn’t just a temporary hiatus until the heat is turned off,” said Dr. Hoffman. “I hope they do the right thing and recover the patients who were already discharged.”
Minnesota Public Radio first reported on the policy change.
Allina Health owns 13 hospitals and more than 90 clinics in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Thanks to its nonprofit status, Allina avoided about $266 million in state, local and federal taxes in 2020, according to the Lown Institute, a think tank that studies health care.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has asked patients to contact his office if they are affected by Allina’s policy.
“I have read the NewsMadura article with great concern and am reviewing it carefully,” Mr Ellison said in a statement to a local television station, KARE 11. “Allina is required by the hospital agreement to refrain from aggressive billing practices and charitable care when patients need and qualify for it, like all hospitals in Minnesota.