OLYMPIA — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has sued a Tacoma hospital over allegations that it illegally withheld charity care from tens of thousands of low-income patients.
The lawsuit against St. Joseph Medical Center was filed Tuesday in Pierce County Superior Court. Ferguson says that the hospital has been violating the state’s consumer protection laws since at least 2012, and that senior management at the hospital was aware of the problems and did not act.
Washington law requires all hospitals to let patients know about the availability of charity care, and to screen them for eligibility. It also limits the number of documents required of patients to prove their income. Among the allegations against St. Joseph’s is that employees were told to not volunteer information about the charity care program.
A message seeking comment has been left with CHI Franciscan, which runs the hospital.