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Fighting Cancer and Fending Off Collections

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After being diagnosed with leukemia, Tracy first cut back his working hours, and eventually had to stop working all together. When he lost his health insurance, Tracy applied for Medicaid. Tracy’s doctor soon informed him that he would need a bone marrow transplant, and Tracy and his wife Anita went to the hospital to begin the required tests and procedures.

Although his Medicaid application was pending, Tracy and Anita were told by the hospital that they had to sign a financial agreement to pay a total of $40,000. According to the hospital, these funds would be used to conduct a search for a donor match and collect bone marrow from the prospective donor.

The couple was already concerned about the long, difficult donor matching process that lay ahead. Now they were faced with a confusing $40,000 agreement: wasn’t the search for a donor going to be covered by Medicaid? Were they really responsible for this bill? Uncomfortable with delaying the process, the couple signed the agreement and began making payments. While Tracy began treatment, Anita contacted CHA for advice.

CHA staff informed her that, in fact, charging a Medicaid patient for the balance of a bill covered by Medicaid violates well-settled New York law. CHA also verified that Tracy’s Medicaid application had been approved and was indeed active when they signed the agreement. CHA not only ensured that the hospital reimbursed Tracy and Anita for the payments they had already made, but also issued a letter indicating that the couple is not responsible for the $40,000.

Tracy and Anita were relieved that they could now focus on getting through the transplant, and not worry about how to pay for it.