District 1199 New England of the Service Employees International Union said it is filing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of uninsured patients who were allegedly wrongfully denied free medical care by Yale New Haven Health System's Yale-New Haven and Bridgeport hospitals in Connecticut. The union charges that as many as 10,000 patients were denied access to the hospitals' "free bed" funds, worth approximately $30 million at Yale-New Haven and $8 million at Bridgeport. The lawsuit also alleges that uninsured patients were charged more than actual costs as required by Connecticut statute. Specifically, the union charges that the hospitals did not provide easily understandable information about the funds and patients who could not pay their bills were victimized by liens, foreclosures, salary garnishments, bank account seizures and sometimes arrests. Yale New Haven Health System responded in a written statement that it has developed "one of the most innovative and comprehensive approaches" to providing charity care and will vigorously defend itself against the charges. Officials said that the SEIU has been trying unsuccessfully to organize 1,800 employees at Yale-New Haven Hospital for three years. "This is a tactic that is part of an ongoing, orchestrated campaign by the union to undercut the reputation of the organization and to pressure the hospital to recognize a union without a National Labor Relations Board supervised election," Yale New Haven Health System officials said. -- by Cinda Becker
Union sues Yale New Haven hospitals over free care
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