In May 2014, National Nurses United—the largest nurses organization in the US—charged Community Health Systems—a giant corporate operator of hospitals—with pressuring a billboard company to remove billboards that criticized the CHS’s high charges. NNU started the billboard campaign as a response to data indicating that CHS hospitals charges some of the highest costs in the country and aggressively targets many patients for money.
NNU asserts that either CHS or its affiliated hospitals were responsible for complaints that resulted in the removal of billboards in Mississippi and Tennessee.
NNU Co-President Jean Ross has said that the high prices especially hurt self-payers, and leave patients with financial struggles and a lack of access to timely care. One hospital, Biloxi Regional Medical Center, charges patients over 6.7 times the cost of care.
In addition, CHS has targeted numerous low-income patients with lawsuits over their difficulties in paying medical bills, and has discouraged patients who have trouble with their bills by getting newspapers to publish their names and publicly humiliate them.
As of May 16, 2014, the corporate media has not covered this story.
Source: National Nurses United. “Nurses Charge Hospital Giant Censors Public Right to Know About Price Gouging As Billboards Pulled,” May 16, 2014, http://www.nationalnursesunited.org/press/entry/nurses-charge-hospital-giant-censors-public-right-to-know-about-price-gougi/.
Student Researcher: Noah Tenney (Sonoma State University alumnus)
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips (Sonoma State University)