Five-hospital Daughters of Charity Health System, Los Altos Hills, Calif., became the latest hospital system to announce a new charity-care policy establishing discounts for the uninsured amid recent debate over not-for-profit providers' handling of the uninsured. The system's board approved the new seven-page policy after a year of discussions, President and Chief Executive Officer Bain Ferris said. Daughters of Charity, which split from Catholic Healthcare West in 2002, was not among the many health systems nationwide targeted in a series of class-action lawsuits over billing of the uninsured. Under Daughters of Charity's new policy, uninsured patients earning up to twice the federal poverty level will receive care at no charge, and those earning up to 400% of the poverty level will receive discounts on a sliding scale. All other uninsured patients will be charged managed-care rates, with 10% discounts for payment in full within 30 days. The policy says the system will provide care -- regardless of ability to pay -- without delay, limitations or pending financial discount determination. It also says the system will not take legal action for nonpayment if the primary wage earner is unemployed, uninsured or without significant income or assets. -- by Mark Taylor
Catholic system adopts new charity-care policy
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