Hospital should pay fines for billing injured employee

A hospital has to pay fines for sending bills to the injured worker and a debt collection agency for treatment related to an accident at work.

At Delta County Memorial Hospital v. Industrial Claims Appeals Office, Colorado Appeals Court, Division IV, on Thursday upheld a ruling by an industrial claims panel, citing a hospital for violating state labor compensation laws.

Edith Keating worked for Bob Adams Trucking & Towing and was seriously injured while loading a pickup truck onto a tow truck in 2017. She sought compensation for workers and an administrative judge pronounced her on illness and disability; However, her employer lacked the necessary workers’ compensation insurance.

The judge ordered the company to deposit $ 130,000 with the Colorado Division of Workers Compensation to secure payment of the unpaid indemnities and benefits granted, and to submit a bond with the division for the same amount. However, it is unclear whether he paid funds to medical service providers.

Ms. Keating provided a copy of the order to the Delta County Memorial Hospital, where she had been treated, but the hospital tried to collect Ms. Keating as it had received no payment for its services. Her attorney told the hospital that it is illegal in the state for a health care provider to “charge an injured worker for work-related accident treatment services” once a claim is made. Although the hospital received this letter in April 2019 and took note of it in May, it continued its billing collection attempts in June and September 2019.

An administrative magistrate concluded that the hospital had violated state employee compensation law by sending medical bills to Ms. Keating despite being informed of the decision to indemnify her case, and imposed penalties of 750 USD per day for the period between the first invoice in June 2019 to October 2019.

The panel upheld the decision except for the amount of the fine, stating that the hospital should only be fined for the days Ms. Keating was wrongly billed, which was eight times $ 6,000 in fines.

The hospital appealed and Ms. Keating cross-appeal against the panel’s decision, arguing that the sentence should have been higher.

The appeals court found that the panel correctly limited the penalty and confirmed the penalties for the dates the hospital billed Ms. Keating.

Although the hospital argued that due process was denied when the administrative judge examined Ms. Keating’s application for penalties and ruled on him, the appeals court rejected that argument.

Likewise, the court dismissed Ms. Keating’s appeal that the panel should charge the hospital with fines totaling $ 89,000 for continued violations, but the appeals court disagreed. However, in two cases where the hospital forwarded invoices to a debt collection company, the court added two additional billing violations.

The appeals court overturned and dismissed the case, ordering the administrative judge to add two penalties to the grand total of $ 750 each.

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