California regulators have moved to stop one of the state’s biggest hospital operators from billing privately insured patients for unpaid medical services received at its facilities.
The Department of Managed Health Care, in a lawsuit filed Friday in Orange County Superior Court, is seeking to bar Victorville-based Prime Healthcare Services Inc. from billing insured patients for unpaid medical bills that the hospital chain contends it is owed from insurers and is seeking from patients as a last resort.
Insurers contend that Prime inflates what it charges them for patients treated in Prime hospitals. In response, many insurers including Kaiser Permanente said they had begun sending Prime only partial payments for members treated at Prime hospitals.
Prime Healthcare said it believed that it was legally allowed to send the bills to patients and that it wouldn’t have to do that if insurers paid their portion of the medical bills.
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