They Were Entitled to Free Care. Hospitals Hounded Them to Pay.
With the help of a consulting firm, the Providence hospital system trained staff to wring money out of patients, even those eligible for free care.
In 2018, senior executives at one of the country’s largest nonprofit hospital chains, Providence, were frustrated. They were spending hundreds of millions of dollars providing free health care to patients. It was eating into their bottom line.
The executives, led by Providence’s chief financial officer at the time, devised a solution: a program called Rev-Up.
Rev-Up provided Providence’s employees with a detailed playbook for wringing money out of patients — even those who were supposed to receive free care because of their low incomes, a New York Times investigation found.
In training materials obtained by The Times, members of the hospital staff were instructed how to approach patients and pressure them to pay.
“Ask every patient, every time,” the materials said. Instead of using “weak” phrases — like “Would you mind paying?” — employees were told to ask how patients wanted to pay. Soliciting money “is part of your role. It’s not an option.”
If patients did not pay, Providence sent debt collectors to pursue them.