News Nation/World

Sun special investigation: In Their Debt

Three decades ago, Maryland officials devised a novel system — now the only one of its kind — in which a state agency sets hospital rates for all patients. It was designed in part to guarantee hospital care whether patients could afford it or not. Hospitals received $921 million last year to cover costs of providing free and unpaid care, according to the most recent state records, and all hospital patients in Maryland contribute through the rates they pay. But an eight-month investigation by The Sun found that over the past five years some of Maryland's 46 nonprofit hospitals have received millions of surplus dollars from the payment system even as they sued tens of thousands of patients over unpaid bills. Many of these suits have been filed against patients in the poorest areas of the state.

  • House votes help for lower-income patients

    Measure restricts debt-collection practices

  • Health care bill passes in the Senate

    The Maryland Senate unanimously approved legislation Tuesday that would require hospitals to provide free care to uninsured patients with incomes of less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level. The bill, crafted in response to an investigative series in The Baltimore Sun into the state's...

  • About this series

    The reporting To examine debt collection practices by Maryland hospitals, The Baltimore Sun compiled a database of 132,000 collection lawsuits filed by hospitals across the state from January 2003 through June 30 of this year. The Sun also compiled a partial database of judgments after state officials...