Labor Leaders, Community Activists to Join Nurses in Protest of Hospital’s Egregious Medical Debt Practices and Union-Busting
On Saturday, July 20, labor and community activists will join nurses for a major rally outside Johns Hopkins in Baltimore to protest the hospital’s deplorable practice of suing low-income community patients and their families for medical debt. Rallygoers will also call on Johns Hopkins to respect the rights of its RNs and stop all harassment and intimidation tactics related to their union organizing effort.
Sponsored by the AFL-CIO, National Nurses United and the Coalition for a Humane Hopkins, the rally will feature several distinguished speakers, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler and National Nurses United Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN.
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, MD 21287
Since 2009, Johns Hopkins Hospital has filed more than 2,400 lawsuits against patients with unpaid bills, many of whom are low-income residents of distressed neighborhoods surrounding the East Baltimore medical campus. Though many would likely qualify for reduced or charity care, several of these patients claim the hospital did not inform them of that option—despite the obligation of Maryland’s charity care provisions.
Johns Hopkins has encountered a great deal of adverse publicity in recent months, with several major Baltimore media outlets calling attention to the hospital’s egregious medical debt practices. For instance, “Johns Hopkins Should Stop Suing Poor People,” an editorial published by the Baltimore Sun in May, criticizes the hospital for taking its “poorest and most vulnerable patients” to court—especially when their accumulated debts (4.8 million) equal “one tenth of one percent” of the hospital’s operating revenues.
Not to mention the hospital receives millions in public funding for charity care. According to a recent study done by the AFL-CIO, National Nurses United and the Coalition for a Humane Hopkins, Johns Hopkins accepted $164.4 million in tax exemptions and $25 million in rate support to provide charity care in 2017 alone. $3.3 million of that public funding was in excess of charity care provided, the study found—which is nearly enough to cover the $3.4 million sought in medical debt cases filed by the hospital in Maryland courts from 2015 to 2018.
At Saturday’s rally, thousands will call on Johns Hopkins to cancel all medical debt lawsuits filed against low-income patients, 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 their facilities. Rallygoers will also press Johns Hopkins to stop violating federal labor law, end their aggressive union-busting campaign and respect the rights of RNs who wish to join National Nurses Organizing Committee/NNU.