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Lawsuit against Renown granted class action status

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A Washoe District Court granted class action status to a lawsuit alleging an improper billing practice by Renown Regional Medical Center.

Attorney Patrick Leverty spoke with News 4's Terri Hendry about the case. He said, "There is a law that says they have to seek to collect from the health insurance company first before commencing any time of collection efforts including filing liens."

But he said that is not what happened to his client, Michael Wiley. Leverty said Renown refused to bill his client's health insurance company when Wiley visited the Emergency Room following a motorcycle accident in 2011. Instead, he said the hospital filed a lien to collect full payment.

Leverty asserts the hospital gets more money this way. He explains health insurance companies negotiate discounted rates with the hospital.

He said, "For example, assume Renown charges $2,000 for an MRI but Renown freely entered into an agreement with the patient's health insurer to accept $1,000 as payment in full for an MRI, Renown simply would ignore that agreement because it wanted the full $2000."

Leverty said this is something he has seen hospitals across the country doing. He said, "Yes, it is a strategy, a billing practice that hospitals have been employing instead of agreeing to what they agreed to take in these provider agreements. They have implemented this strategy of filing liens to try and get the full billing charges."

Leverty said the hospital's former Corporate Compliance Officer and Counsel admitted to this billing practice in the Emergency Room if Renown was able to determine the patient's injury was caused by a third party.

Renown responded to the suit by issuing the following statement:

This case has been in ongoing litigation since 2011. It refers to an extremely small subset of hospital bills, less than one percent, issued between 2007 to 2011 involving third party liability claims and other specific circumstances. We are confident in our billing practices, and we will continue to vigorously contest this case through the appropriate legal process.

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