Carolinas HealthCare System, Charlotte, N.C., and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, N.C., were named in class-action lawsuits brought by uninsured patients who claim the providers charged them too much for care compared with what publicly and privately insured patients would have paid. Officials for the systems were not available for comment. The breach-of-contract suits, filed in late October and early November, are the first of what will be a string of lawsuits against area hospitals, said Gary Jackson, a Charlotte attorney involved in the plaintiffs' cases. Jackson said other suits would be filed in coming weeks.
The Carolinas HealthCare suit was filed in Gaston County Court as a counterclaim to a suit the system filed over an unpaid bill. The Wake Forest suit, which also names affiliate North Carolina Baptist Hospital, was filed in Rowan County Court. North Carolina Baptist will fight the suit but can't comment on it directly, partly for patient privacy reasons, said Mark Wright, spokesman. "Class action lawsuits filed by trial lawyers are not the solution for uninsured patients," Wright said. "We do a great deal to take care of needy patients." -- by Paul Barr