Santa Clara Valley Healthcare is notifying 43,000 former patients that they may be eligible for refunds or billing corrections because the medical facility did not fulfill its charity care obligations.
This action stems from a settlement of a lawsuit filed in 2019, alleging that the public hospital system failed to apprise three former patients of its charity care program or discounted payment policies. The plaintiffs said that they received bills ranging from $8,000 to $35,000 between 2013 and 2017. Those bills were subsequently sent to collections.
The revelation of the settlement was initially reported by KFF Health News.
Among the plaintiffs was a single mother of two, who was a full-time student and uninsured. Another was an unhoused resident.
In accordance with California’s Hospital Fair Pricing Policies law, people unable to afford their medical expenses can qualify for partial or complete bill forgiveness through charity care. Eligibility for charity care extends to patients regardless of their insurance or immigration status.