A lawsuit filed (Sabban v. Scripps) alleges that Scripps Health has engaged in the practice referred to as “balance billing” in which patients are billed for the difference between what their insurance plan has paid and what the health care provider has billed.
Scripps Health does not engage in this practice and after careful review of the patient record, we are confident that we did not in this case.
A new state law effective Oct. 15, 2008 prevents health care providers from engaging in this practice — more than a year after the patient who brought the suit visited our emergency department in June 2007. At that time, lower courts had considered this method appropriate and it was not until January 2009 that the Supreme Court overturned these decisions. Although Scripps did not engage in the practice, we believe it is unjust to consider the new law retroactive.
Our community depends on 24-hour emergency care. As the number of uninsured grows, the pressure on providers like Scripps and our emergency physicians also grows. That is why all emergency providers must receive adequate payment for the services they provide. Lawsuits such as these only serve to further burden California’s already overwhelmed and underfunded emergency and trauma system.