Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia and Radnor, Pa.-based Jefferson Health System, of which Albert Einstein is a member, have asked a federal judge to dismiss them from a wide-ranging class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of uninsured patients by plaintiff attorney Richard Scruggs and other law firms. The lawsuits, filed in federal courts around the country against 44 not-for-profit health systems operating more than 350 hospitals in 23 states, allege that the defendant hospitals overcharge uninsured patients, discriminate in their pricing policies and employ aggressive debt-collection techniques. The American Hospital Association, which has called the lawsuits baseless and without merit, was also named in the litigation. David Simon, senior vice president and general counsel for Jefferson Health System, said the case was, "without any factual or legal merit whatsoever, and we will continue to aggressively defend Jefferson Health System against these scurrilous and unfounded allegations."
Meanwhile, Scruggs, based in Oxford, Miss., and other lawyers have filed new lawsuits against four other health systems -- five-hospital Baptist Health in Little Rock, Ark.; four-hospital Inova Health System in Falls Church, Va.; Mississippi Baptist Health Systems in Jackson, Miss.; and Christus Health, a 23-hospital system based in Irving, Tex.-based. Christus Health's Christus St. Patrick Hospital of Lake Charles (La.) also was added to the class-action litigation. A spokeswoman for Scruggs said a number of the hospitals and health systems that have been sued have filed motions to dismiss. The plaintiffs are seeking to have all of the hospitals' motions to dismiss stayed until a federal multidistrict litigation panel in Washington rules on the plaintiffs' motion to consolidate the suits, she said. A hearing on that motion is set for Sept. 30. -- by Mark Taylor