Press Release

AFL-CIO, RN Leaders to Headline Huge Johns Hopkins Rally to Demand JHH End Practice of Suing Patients with Medical Debt

Johns Hopkins Hospital

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, and National Nurses United Executive Director Bonnie Castillo are headlining a major rally outside Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Saturday, July 20 to press hospital officials to end their deplorable practice of suing low-income community patients and their families for medical debt.
 
Hospital officials continue to hound patients even while hospitals in Virginia and Tennessee have suspended the practice.
 
Labor, health care and community activists from across the region will be on hand as well as those who have been sued by Johns Hopkins Hospital for alleged medical debt.
 
The July 20 rally will also press Johns Hopkins to respect the rights of its RNs to form a union.
 
What: Major rally at Johns Hopkins Hospital
When: Saturday, July 20, 2-3 p.m.
Where: Outside Johns Hopkins Hospital, North Broadway between Orleans and Monument Streets (in front of dome), Baltimore

 
The AFL-CIO, National Nurses United, and the Coalition for a Humane Hopkins are sponsoring the rally. More details on the Johns Hopkins medical debt lawsuits is available in a research report by the three organizations at https://act.nationalnursesunited.org/page/-/files/graphics/Johns-Hopkins-Medical-Debt-report.pdf
 
 
Since 2009, Johns Hopkins Hospital has filed more than 2,400 lawsuits in Maryland courts seeking payment of alleged medical debt from former patients. In more than 400 cases, the hospital has won garnishments of wages or bank accounts.
 
Many patients would likely qualify for reduced-fee or charity care, but were apparently not informed of that option by the hospital despite the obligation of Maryland’s charity care provisions.
 
Hopkins’ medical debt practices also have a disproportionate impact on African American Baltimore residents. The area which contains the largest number of residents sued by Hopkins, for example, is 90 percent African American and has a poverty rate nearly triple the state average.
 
Johns Hopkins has continued its egregious medical debt practices despite widespread community criticism, and the recent announcement that two other large hospitals, Mary Washington Healthcare in Fredericksburg, Va. and Methodist Le Bonheur in Memphis, Tenn. have suspended medical debt lawsuits after similar practices were brought to light.
 
Rallygoers will call on Johns Hopkins to cancel all medical debt lawsuits filed against low-income patients, end the practice of garnishing wages, substantially increase the amount of charity care it provides, and guarantee all patients are informed of the opportunity to qualify for free or reduced medical care at Johns Hopkins facilities.
 
Further, the rally will press Johns Hopkins to respect the right of RNs who are seeking to unionize with the National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurse United.
 
In June, the hospital reached a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board to agree to stop violating federal labor law with such practices as unlawful surveillance and interrogation of RNs and barring off-duty RNs access to non-patient care areas to talk to their colleagues about the union.
 
However, nurses report continued violation of their rights, and an aggressive union-busting campaign designed to silence the voice of nurses. The nurses and supporters are calling on Johns Hopkins to agree to stop all harassment and intimidation tactics related to the union organizing effort.