AUSTIN (KXAN) — Central Health announced Tuesday it is suing healthcare company Ascension Texas, alleging Ascension is “failing to meet its contractual obligations” in providing healthcare services to residents from lower-income backgrounds in Travis County.
According to the release, Central Health began its contractual relationship with Ascension in 2004. In 2013, Ascension committed to continue providing at minimum “the current levels of healthcare services,” which included both hospital and specialty care. The contract renewal applied to patients enrolled through Central Health’s Medical Access (MAP) program, or healthcare coverage for uninsured Travis County residents from lower income backgrounds.
Central Health officials cited a 21% decline in patients between 2013 and 2022, down 8,000 patients, the release states.
“We are out of options,” said Mike Geeslin, President & CEO of Central Health, in the release. “Ascension’s persistent failures to honor its contractual commitments left Central Health with no choice but to file a lawsuit to hold Ascension accountable for not providing adequate, equitable healthcare services for people with low income in Travis County. Their practices have caused real harm to the people we serve.”
An Ascension spokesperson acknowledged KXAN’s request for comment and said a statement will be available shortly. We will update this story once that statement has been received.
The lawsuit alleges reduced levels of healthcare services provided in both general and specialty areas. The lawsuit claims Ascension breached its contract with Central Health in the following ways:
- Failure to provide “agreed-upon healthcare services to low-income Travis County residents,” including both general and specialty care
- Failure to provide healthcare services to MAP patients, Charity Care patients on “a nondiscriminatory basis”
- “Improperly billing” Charity Care patients for healthcare services
- Failure to provide mandatory reports that Central Health needs to “monitor, on behalf of Travis County residents, Ascension’s compliance with performance standards”
As part of the lawsuit, Central Health is looking for a termination of its contractual agreements with Ascension, as well as the option to purchase Dell Seton Medical Center. Per the release, Ascension was “permitted to affiliate with the Central Health-supported Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin,” as part of the creation of Dell Seton Medical Center.