When a nonprofit health system outsources its ER, debt collectors follow

A Post-Dispatch analysis found that CP Medical has filed at least 1,078 lawsuits in St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County between Dec. 2, 2014, and March 10, 2016.
News Story (Missouri)

Samantha Liss
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
April 17, 2016

Tags: Consumer Protection, Debt Collection, Health Care

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (LSEM), National Consumer Law Center (NCLC)


Robert Swearingen, an attorney with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, said he’s never seen medical debt pile up in the local courts like this before. He now represents multiple defendants in these cases.

“I hardly ever see medical debt in St. Louis,” Swearingen said. Although aggressive collection practices are common in other regions of the U.S., it “may be a new trend” in St. Louis, he said.

The fact that the lawsuits are directed at those treated at hospitals owned by SSM, a Creve Coeur-based Catholic and nonprofit health system, is surprising to some legal health experts, given its charitable mission to provide care to all regardless of their ability to pay.