The American Hospital Association moved to block the consolidation of 44 class-action lawsuits over hospitals' billing of the uninsured, saying the suits were brought by "dissimilar plaintiffs against dissimilar defendants involving dissimilar factual claims." A group of national law firms led by the Scruggs Law Firm, Oxford, Miss., began suing not-for-profit hospitals and health systems on behalf of uninsured patients -- and naming the AHA as a co-defendant - earlier this summer. The lawsuits, which so far cover about 350 hospitals in 23 states, allege that the hospitals overcharge uninsured patients compared with other patients and use unfair collection tactics. In a motion filed Tuesday before a federal panel, the AHA contended it was added to the lawsuits as a "common defendant" as a legal maneuver to justify consolidating the actions. The association argued that consolidation "would undermine, rather than promote" a federal law allowing for the grouping of similar lawsuits. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Sept. 30 in Washington. -- by Mark Taylor
AHA protests consolidation of uninsured suits
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