Legacy Responds to DCEO Magazine Article

DCEO Magazine recently published "Blurred Lines" a story leveraged on the claims of a patient who has made multiple attempts to exploit retail healthcare facilities in order to gain attention and "inform the public".  After realizing what he was doing was slanderous he attempted to retract his claims provided to D Magazine, but they continued to print without attempting to gain a comment from Legacy.  Here is our response to the story - and the facts.  More to come.  


Legacy's Initial Response

Legacy's model is complex, but one guarantee we have made is to always do right by the patient. The relationship between insurance company and patient and provider is complex and we fought hard to be in network and offer a hybrid solution that saves $13M-$20M in unnecessary ER expenses every year in just our local communities. National media has praised us, politicians want a national option like ours, and over 70% of our patients visit us multiple times a year because they love the service. Locally in Texas the need to produce content has seen an onslaught of medical misgivings highlighted by local print media. A lack of understanding and open door policy to anyone with gripe has turned N. Texas into a case study for healthcare change to a market of poorly explored facts of how the healthcare system works and how you, the patient, could navigate better. D Magazine covered a story with so many misguided facts and now feels due to “media privilege” they can state they reached out for comment. All emails have been checked, all voice mails thoroughly examined and no one reached out. As you can see from the email exchange between patient and writer – it was speed not accuracy that was important. Most importantly, even though we do not agree with the tactics of the patient and their manners, we cordially sided with them and went above and beyond to over accommodate – as we always do. The patient even when on to publicly praise us for helping. Here are the false claims written in the article.

Claim: Article states the patient was not notified of the emergency billing 
Fact: Patient was verbally notified and even signed a consent to that billing before those services were rendered

Claim: Article states there was “no list saying what constitutes ER services” 
Fact: The consent the patient signed on both visits provides that list completely along with an attestation that ER billing would take place for those services

Claim: Bill was higher than in-network amounts. 
Fact: The two visits would have actually been hundreds more when referencing our contract with Aetna that took effect 1/1/17

Claim: D-Magazine reached out to us for comment
Fact: D-Magazine did not reach out

We are not asking for your support. We have a right to protect our patient's, ourselves and the dedicated teams that built this patient first model through the expected hurdles of regulators, laws, and now even, misguided writers looking for any lead that bleeds. You as patients deserve better, and our communities deserve better sources for news. Fact: Over 80% of our patients are billed at urgent care rates, and that is our choice we made not to unfairly bill our neighbors and friends, but that will never make a story.

Update:  Email exchange with Editor of DCEO

 

--As stated in the story, Olivia attempted to contact Legacy/Frisco for comment. She tells me that during her reporting for the story she left two voicemails with the marketing department—neither of which was returned. RESPONSE : Voicemails of every phone in all 6 locations have been checked and no voicemail or messages.  No such "marketing department" in Frisco exists
--As for the point in this note alleging two “inaccurate facts,” the story states that the Sandlins recalled “seeing, in fine print, a reference in Candie’s paperwork to the possibility of some services being ‘emergent’ …” In addition, the quote from Mr. Sandlin regarding his wish for a list of services says that such a list should be “distinctly offered” (in other words, prominently displayed)--as opposed to text on a form which was never discussed (verbally) with the patient. RESPONSE : We have extensive proof of both - our procedure for ER consent far exceed the minimum - patient went on to admit all of this was thoroughly discussed and attempted to retract this claim. 
 --Mr. Sandlin did tell Olivia that his situation with Legacy had been resolved, but this was long after the story had gone to press. While we reported accurately in the story on his well-documented beef with the company’s procedures, I’ll add an editor’s note at the end of the article saying that after this article went to press, Mr. Sandlin said his issues with Legacy ER & Urgent Care had finally been resolved. RESPONSE: The patient articulated that this was his third extortion attempt of a Free-Standing ER - the first two simply wrote off his bill, but since we are in-network we could not.  The patient expressed the need to be a "public advocate" and wanting this as platform.  Later understanding he was wrong on all accounts he retracted his story to DMag but they continued to run it never taking into account the source.  

Legacy's letter to the editor.  
Hello Glenn
 
Thank you for connecting.  Obviously we are discouraged about the article.  In 8 years we have never declined or not returned an opportunity to comment.  Our billing model is extremely unique and we have worked hard to offer fair billing and convenient access to our customers with great success.  As a hybrid, in network option (we are the only fully in network option on both ER and UC in the country) we have disclosures and processes in place to explain ER services.  We took the minimum requirements and doubled them, being extremely transparent.  As Jo explained and even the patient, this was the case in this case.  In our continued efforts to educate as we expand across the country, the continued rhetoric of ER vs. UC is getting over discussed and missing key facts, for example why they exists, and the legislative that allows them to exist which is an important advantage unique to CO and TX.  In addition, a hybrid model like our is actually saving patients millions in unnecessary ER visits (studies available if you would like to discuss)  
 
With all that being said the patient in question attempted to become a "public advocate" by attempting to exploit 2 free-standing ERs prior to his two visits with us.  In those attempts because they were out of network, they just wrote them off and sent him on his way due to his crude language.  Because we are in network, we could not do so, because by threatening not to pay would be a violation of his contract with the insurer, also known as extortion. (it's actually written in most policies)  After our customer service team attempted to help him - he launched into a tirade of curses and exploitive directed at them - even while offering to give him a payment plan and off set his bill.  Our COO got involved, offering a professional explanation, in which the patient continued his tirade until it was understood that we have video and written confirmation of the explanation of ER and signed consents on both visits.  In addition we also notified his carrier of our offer to help him pay and his threat of extortion.  After extensive and unnecessary conversations (over 7) he understood and agreed that nothing was mishandled and he was wrong of his perception of undisclosed information.  This makes the claims in the article false because it is actually not what happened at all - it is the personal claim of someone trying in his words "inform the public”.  In addition, because in our code of ethics, we work for the patient, we still zeroed out his bill for his troubles - meaning we paid his portion to the insurance company.    
 
Now the dilemma stands that Legacy has been accused of falsely misleading patients into the ER.  There is no middle ground on this; the facts in the article are in fact claims of a poor source.  In addition, there is no marketing department in the Frisco location, and we downloaded every voicemail from every location and have no record of a message or attempt to contact.  We also recorded all messages from the time period as well as emails to make sure.  If possible please provide any type of data that would confirm the attempts etc, which would be greatly appreciated.  
 
We know any additional clarification from D is probably not going to happen, but in attempt to protect those who have built this business on strong ethics, and passion for community (the communities which we donate over $1M in time and money too annually), the same community your team makes a living informing, we should have our position stated.  We have gained national attention for our customer service, attracted some of the most influential healthcare board members in the country, and are partnering around the US with health systems, employers, and local governments to execute our healthcare changing model - that is a story we should be discussing.  
 
All the best,