A Utah hospital has filed suit to force Twin Falls County to pay $64,000 in medical bills for two unemployed Twin Falls men.
The University Hospital in Salt Lake City wants payment of the hospital bills of Michael Pollard and Hyrum Morrison, $3,000 in attorney fees and interest on the bills."This is the first time I have ever seen a hospital take this step," said County Welfare Director Juanita Bryan. "I was shocked."
The suit challenges the county's last-resource policy under which it denies indigent health-care claims unless applicants have exhausted all other avenues of assistance.
"The policy has no basis in statute, is in conflict with the general laws and is void as a matter of public policy," the suit said.
Pollard, who was injured in a one-car accident on July 1, 1988, was transferred from the Magic Valley Regional Medical Center to the Utah hospital, where his medical bills mounted to some $42,000. County commissioners later denied his request for county assistance.
The commissioners denied a similar application by Morrison, who suffered back and leg injuries in an Elko, Nev., motorcycle accident on July 13 and received $22,000 in medical care at the hospital.
The commissioners, after separate appeal hearings for Pollard and Morrison in January, postponed a decision on the two until the Social Security Administration finishes reconsidering its own rejection of aid for the men.
"Until Social Security responds to reconsideration applications submitted by both men, the county should not have to pay the bills," Bryan said.
If the two are denied Social Security assistance a second time, they will likely qualify for county aid, she said.