SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., July 10, 2020 — Justice Catalyst Law filed a class action against the largest healthcare staffing company in the country, TeamHealth, alleging that it systemically inflates medical bills sent to patients around the country. Millions of people are saddled with medical debt every year and medical debt is the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States. This lawsuit alleges that TeamHealth contributes to the medical debt crisis by billing more than it can legally collect in court, a form of mail and wire fraud that is prohibited by the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). JCL is co-counsel in this case with Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, a top class-action litigation firm.
TeamHealth is a private equity-owned company that contracts with hospitals to take over their emergency, critical care, radiology and anesthesiology departments, supplying them with doctors and other medical professionals as well as running their administrative functions. In 2016, TeamHealth boasted that it controlled 17 percent of the emergency medicine market in the United States.
TeamHealth medical professionals appear to be employed by the hospitals in which they operate. Their staff work within the hospital and do not wear uniforms or other apparel that would identify them as non-hospital staff. Patients only learn that a separate company is providing their medical care when they get a separate bill from TeamHealth, for far more than the reasonable value of the services provided, which is all it would be entitled to if it pursued the bill in court.
Patients sign no paperwork with TeamHealth — let alone agree on price. Yet TeamHealth pursues patients ruthlessly for far more than the reasonable value of their services. The TeamHealth Fraudulent Billing Enterprise has sued thousands of patients in the last few years, including patients who would qualify for free care and reduced rates under hospitals’ ‘charity care’ programs.”
The complaint notes that 60 percent of Americans cannot afford to pay an unexpected medical bill of more than $1,000 and 66.5 percent of all bankruptcies in the United States are due in whole or in part to medical debt.
“Americans should not have to risk financial ruin whenever they have a medical emergency,” said Craig Briskin, Senior Counsel at Justice Catalyst Law and an attorney representing the plaintiff. “This suit seeks nothing less than returning common sense and the rule of law to medical billing.”
“TeamHealth controls the terms of its physicians’ employment, all physician staffing decisions, and, most importantly, all the rates its physicians and practice groups charge patients,” the lawsuit alleges. “The successful goal of this enterprise is to maximize corporate profits while avoiding state bans on the corporate practice of medicine.”
Justice Catalyst Law is a nonprofit law firm that focuses on combatting social and economic injustice, working nationally to support cases and policy work in the fields of antitrust, consumer protection, employment discrimination and civil rights.