An emergency room staffing firm owned by TeamHealth has filed thousands of lawsuits against patients in Memphis in the last few years, ProPublica and MLK50 report.
This is a collision of two storylines: the aggressive billing practices of private equity-backed health care companies, and providers’ decision to take patients to court to collect their medical debts.
- Media reports have, until now, mostly focused on hospitals’ lawsuits, but ProPublica and MLK50’s reporting suggest the practice could be more widespread.
Between the lines: TeamHealth has already been in hot water for its role in surprise billing.
- Emergency room physicians send patients surprise medical bills more often than other specialties, especially physicians employed by TeamHealth.
- These doctors then have leverage to obtain higher in-network payment rates, making the practice lucrative.
- The group is also one of the main funders of the dark-money group that has run millions in ads against what was Congress’ leading solution to surprise medical bills.
- The company was acquired by the Blackstone Group in 2017.
By the numbers: The Memphis subsidiary Southeastern Emergency Physicians has filed more than 4,800 lawsuits against patients in Shelby County General Sessions Court since 2017, per ProPublica and MLK50.
- TeamHealth said last week, after receiving questions from reporters, that it will no longer sue patients and won’t pursue the lawsuits it’s already filed.