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Suit filed against St. Vincent Healthcare’s parent company over prepaid debit cards

Posted at 3:53 PM, Oct 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-25 17:53:32-04

BILLINGS – A Billings woman is suing SCL Health, the parent company of St. Vincent Healthcare, for issuing a healthcare overcharge refund in the form of a prepaid debit card.

The suit was filed Oct. 16 in Yellowstone County District Court.

The suit is filed individually on behalf of Cheryl Bratton, who is represented by Billings attorney John Heenan. Bratton alleges SCL failed to refund overpayments in a “commercially restorable manner.”

Although Bratton is listed as the plaintiff in the case, the complaint could also bring about a possible class action suit against Sisters of Charity Leavenworth Health System Inc.

In June 2018 Bratton said she was overcharged by $12.86 after paying a bill for a health care visit.  A month later, rather than issue a check or credit to her account, Bratton said SCL Health instead gave her a Bank of America prepaid debit card.

The card included Bratton’s name and an expiration date just like any other store valued card.

A spokesperson at St. Vincent Healthcare sent a statement concerning the suit.

“While we cannot comment on any specifics at this time, we take any inquiry of this nature very seriously and we are fully investigating and will respond in the appropriate forum when we have more information.” -Steve Loveless, St. Vincent Healthcare & SCL Health Montana President 

As a part of what could be a class action suit, Heenan is asking others to come forward who’ve been given the same prepaid debit card after overpaying health fees after a visit to St. Vincent Healthcare.

Heenan said in an interview Thursday that after a post on a Facebook Billings ‘watchdog group’ more people have come forward saying they’ve also gotten the same prepaid debit card.

“We’ve talked to some people that have gotten these cards for $100 or $500,” he said. “So we question what happens to the people who choose not to go through the hassle to activate the card that has $12 on it.”

As a part of the complaint, Bratton said SCL Health did not have her consent to provide refunds by a prepaid debit card or disclose that’s how she wanted funds given back to her.

The complaint alleges that there are no Bank of America locations in Montana and if Bratton wanted to withdraw money, she must pay a fee.

“A third of people won’t activate those cards. What happens to that money?” Heenan said.

The complaint also outlines four specific allegations against SCL Health.

The complaint asks for an accounting of all overpayment funds held by SCL Health. The complaint also says SCL Health wrongfully converted patient’s funds into its own benefit as well as asks that SCL Health be required by law to return funds to patients without any strings attached. Last, the complaint is accusing SCL of engaging in unfair deceptive practices

Heenan said SCL Health consolidated years ago and is based in Denver, Colo. He questions why there is so much overpaying for healthcare by patients, in the first place.

Bratton is seeking for punitive damages, attorney fees and for SCL Health to stop the practice of issuing prepaid debit cards to patients who have overpaid health fees.

— story by Andrea Lutz – MTN News