Washington Post Profiles Forbes of Consejo de Latinos Unidos, Looks at Hospital Billing Efforts
The Washington Post on Monday examined efforts to stop the alleged overcharging of uninsured patients at not-for-profit hospitals and profiled "lead agitator" K.B. Forbes, executive director of Consejo de Latinos Unidos. According to the Post, federal lawsuits in 22 states have been filed over the past year accusing not-for-profit hospitals of "failing to meet their tax-exempt obligations to provide indigent care." Forbes "is racing forward with a new line of attack, focusing on what he calls the un-Christian behavior of religiously affiliated hospitals," the Post reports.
Forbes said, "It's offensive these hospitals market themselves as providing the healing mission of Christ. There is nothing healing about charging someone quadruple and then sending the bill collectors after them." Two years ago, Forbes "scored a major victory against the hospital industry" after he accused Tenet Healthcare of price gouging, after which the hospital chain agreed to offer deep discounts for uninsured patients, according to the Post.
Critics of Forbes say that he is a "front man for insurance giant and GOP donor J. Patrick Rooney," the Post reports. However, Forbes said that such allegations "are a pathetic attempt by the hospitals to deflect attention away from their own deplorable and egregious behavior."
Despite a "growing number of lawmakers" and consumer advocates who say charging uninsured patients "often triple what insured customers pay" amounts to violation of consumer protection laws, hospitals maintain that "negotiating bulk discounts for major buyers is simply the free-market system at work," according to the Post (Connolly, Washington Post, 8/22).