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Hospitals Increase Lien Filings in Effort of Increase Revenue

The Shelby County Health Care Corp., known locally as The MED, has dramatically increased its lien filings in Tennessee Circuit Court, relying on a state law giving hospitals the right to perfect their lien within 120 days of a hospital discharge.  Lien filings increased from a number so small it was unreported in 3rd Quarter of 2008, to 531 in 3rd Quarter 2009.  No doubt, this more aggressive stance is indicative of the budget constraints that hospitals everywhere are under, and the need to find money anywhere they can.  Hospitals have always been among the most diligent of creditors of an estate to probate a claim so this trend is merely expanding the hospital's practice of lien enforcement.  While I have not seen any statistics for Mississippi, I suspect that similar increases are being seen in Mississippi courts in search of additional sources of revenue.  One trend that has been seen in Mississippi is the pursuit of liens by third party intermediaries such as MedPay Assurance.  These liens are asserted in both personal injury cases and estates, and seek reimbursement for the entire "retail" value of whatever procedure was performed, rather than the price that the hospital agreed to accept from the insurer such as BC/BS.  This can be as high as 300% of the price that the hospital had originally agreed to accept for the procedure, and illustrates the aggressive stance that many hospitals are taking with regard to money owed to them.

Curiously, despite the high levels of uninsured's, reaching in excess of 19% in Mississippi, hospitals have not been enthusiastic supporters of healthcare reform and a public option which would dramatically decrease the number of uninsured in the state and insure payment to these hospitals for their services.  I suspect that this is because hospitals have calculated that they will make more money under the existing system that only pays them for some of their patients at a high rate, than a system that will pay them for all of their patients at a government negotiated or set rate. 

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