Empire Health Foundation v. Community Health Systems

Information Page

Welcome to the Empire Health Foundation v. CHS Settlement Information Page.  This site is designed to provide information about a legal settlement between Empire Health Foundation and Community Health Systems (CHS) that will result in the elimination of thousands of patients’ hospital debt.

Patients with discharged hospital debt will receive a letter from CHS by November 30, 2019. 

The letter will state the amount of debt eliminated and the date it was discharged. 

For free legal help related to the hospital debt elimination CALL Northwest Justice Project at 1-844-787-8822   

For more information about how to address debt collection issues, visit www.washingtonlawhelp.org/issues/consumer-debt for self-help materials and forms.

If you have questions about the lawsuit or the settlement after reviewing this information page, please contact Sirianni Youtz Spoonemore Hamburger:  http://www.symslaw.com/contact

Who qualifies for hospital debt relief?

If you were a patient of either Deaconess Medical Center in Spokane, Washington, or Valley Medical Center in Spokane Valley, Washington, and you still owe money to Community Health Systems (CHS) for hospital services received between November 1, 2008 and June 30, 2017, then your debt may be eliminated as the result of this settlement.

How will I know if my hospital debt is eliminated?

Patients’ whose debt is eliminated will receive a letter of notification from CHS by November 30, 2019. The letter will include the amount of discharged debt and the date the debt was released.

What if I don’t receive a letter?

If you do not receive a letter from CHS in November and believe you qualify for hospital debt relief as a result of the settlement or because you are low-income, call Northwest Justice Project for free legal help at 1-844-787-8822.

What services are available if my hospital debt is discharged? 

Free legal help will be available to assist patients who have their debt discharged with any related issues, including halting collections and repairing their credit history.

Will patient’s whose hospital debt is eliminated receive any cash payment as a result of the Settlement?

No, there is no cash payment to any individual or group of patients as a result of the settlement.  This lawsuit was not a class action, and the settlement does not release or limit patients’ legal rights against CHS.

What is Empire Health Foundation?

Empire Health Foundation, a non-profit charitable foundation, was formed in 2008 through the sale of Deaconess and Valley hospitals to Community Health Systems (see EmpireHealthFoundation.org).   The Foundation’s mission is to boldly advance health equity in Eastern Washington and beyond by collaboratively pursuing innovative solutions and transforming systems to improve health & quality of life.

Why did Empire Health Foundation sue Community Health Systems?

Empire Health Foundation sued Community Health Systems, the for-profit corporation that owned Deaconess and Valley Hospitals from November 1, 2008 through June 30, 2017. The Foundation’s lawsuit alleged that Community Health Systems had failed to make reasonable efforts to provide charity care at, or above, the regional average of charity care provided by all hospitals in Eastern Washington.

Key Documents

The lawsuit was filed in United States Federal Court in Spokane on June 12, 2017. A copy of the complaint can be found here.

 On July 9, 2019 the Court ruled that Community Health Systems had violated Washington’s Charity Care Act. Significant decisions appear here, here, and here.

A copy of the Report by Harvard University, Chan School of Public Health Professor Nancy Kane, developed for the litigation, may be found here.

Just prior to trial, the Foundation and Community Health Systems reached a settlement. A copy of the settlement may be viewed here

A copy of the press release announcing the settlement may be found here, along with a timeline of significant events

The founding documents for the new Empire Health Community Advocacy Fund can be found here.