Healthcare in America: A Mother's Story

Earlier this year I told you how Broken Healthcare provided the legal services to a number of patients in Fredericksburg, Virginia, ultimately leading to Mary Washington Hospitadropping hundreds of lawsuits totaling, by our estimate, more than one million dollars.

Broken Healthcare’s partner, the team from Johns Hopkins known as Restoring Medicine that’s led by Dr. Marty Makary, has put together a series of videos with some of the patient’s stories. The team from Johns Hopkins identified the problem that was going on in Fredericksburg and that’s when Broken Healthcare stepped in with the legal strategy to solve the problem. 

Perhaps the most compelling story is from Crystal Ramos. Crystal is a mother who’s just trying to do everything right, working hard, putting herself through school, all while trying to earn a living to feed her family (at $10/hr). Yet had Broken Healthcare not stepped in to provide Crystal with an attorney and novel legal strategy, it’s likely she would have been buried in debt for the rest of her life. Owing $24,000 to the hospital that was suing Crystal, the interest alone would have been more than $100 a month.

Where does a mother of four who’s putting herself through school on student loans while earning $10/hr come up with another $120/month just to keep up with the interest on her medical debt? How did the hospital manage to deny her charity care request? Why did they keep her in the hospital for five days (this is also a recurring pattern for Mary Washington Hospital—many patients report staying in the hospital only to see one test a day done when many tests could have been done in a single day or two)?

You can watch Crystal’s story here.

Had Broken Healthcare not stepped in when we did, Crystal, unable to afford an attorney and having no idea how to represent herself, would have faced a court judgement. Ten days after the judgement, her right of appeal would have been extinguished.  At that point, even Clarence Darrow couldn’t help her. There’s no legal recourse.

This is what happens every day. Many of the patients we’ve found who are struggling under the weight of crushing medical bills already have judgments against them and the very short window for appeal has passed. We feel awful that there’s nothing we can do for these people. Even in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Mary Washington hospital continues to garnish the wages of people against whom they received judgments prior to Broken Healthcare’s intervention. While they dropped their lawsuits out of fear of facing us in court where they would have seen their corrupt and uncompassionate business practices revealed to the public, they did not cease to garnish the wages of people like Crystal because they know there’s no way for us to appeal those cases. 

We have little reason to believe anything has changed at Mary Washington Hospital.

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