UVA Health System reviewing financial assistance policies after WP article

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WCAV) — The University of Virginia Health System is promising to take a closer look at its financial assistance policies to help low-income patients.

This announcement comes following an analysis by the Washington Post that found the health system sues thousands of patients a year for unpaid medical bills.

The article details personal stories of people losing their homes and going into bankruptcy.

UVA President Jim Ryan says he has asked the executive vice president of the UVA Health System to change those practices.

"I learned about our aggressive billing and collection practices within the Medical Center a little over a month ago," he wrote on Twitter. "I asked Pam Sutton-Wallace, Acting Executive Vice President of the Health System, to change those practices. She readily agreed to do so, and she and her team have been working on the issue ever since. It is complicated, for a number of reasons, including the fact that we are legally obligated as a state agency to collect debts. But we have discretion within those legal constraints to make our system more generous and more humane, and that is what we will do. Pam and her team are finalizing the proposed changes, and we expect to announce them by the end of this week."

"We have been undertaking a comprehensive review of our financial assistance policies to identify changes we will make to better help low-income patients afford their medical bills," said health system spokesperson Eric Swenson. "We expect to announce by Friday some changes to our policies."

"Part of striving to be both a great and a good university is honestly facing problems you encounter and doing what you can to address them," added Ryan in his Twitter post. "That is what we are trying to do here and will continue to do when we discover other ways we can improve as an institution."

To read the original Washington Post article, click here.