N.Y. Hospitals Sue Tobacco Companies to Recoup Funds
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A group of 145 New York hospitals including Manhattan's famous Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center filed a $3.4 billion lawsuit against major tobacco companies on Thursday to recoup funds spent on sick smokers.
The 168-page lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court in Nassau County, alleges that the industry concealed its knowledge that the use of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products are addictive and can lead to serious illness and death.
The hospitals, along with The Healthcare Association of New York State representing 550 non-profit and public hospitals, health systems, nursing homes and home care agencies, are seeking to recover unreimbursed and under-reimbursed costs for health care provided to patients suffering from tobacco-related illnesses.
The suit seeks to recover the costs incurred directly by the hospitals in providing care to the uninsured and to Medicaid and Medicare patients whose publicly funded plans did not fully cover the costs of their care.
According to the suit, the estimated annual cost of treating smoking-related illnesses in New York hospitals exceeds $3.2 billion. About 14 percent of all hospital expenditures in the state since 1993 have been and will be made for the treatment of smoking related illnesses.
The case was filed in state court because state law requires hospitals to provide care to the public irrespective of the patients' ability to pay and the availability of insurance.
``Although it is part of the charitable mission of New York's non-profit hospitals to care for all who come to us, we should not have to bear the burden of intentional fraud, deceit and greed of Big Tobacco,'' said Daniel Sisto, president of the Healthcare Association of New York State.