Union demands stop to privatization of billing & collections at Medical Center

By John McPhaul

General Union of Workers (UGT by its Spanish initials) President Gerson Guzmán López demanded on Wednesday that Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia stop the privatization of the billing and collection division of the Medical Services Administration (ASEM by its Spanish acronym) of the Medical Center.

“The UGT, as a union that represents the health workers of the Medical Center and the employees of the billing and collection division, calls on Governor Pierluisi to stop once and for all this intention to privatize this division, which is the most coveted because it is where [ASEM’s] money comes in and goes out,” Guzmán López said.

The union leader insisted that the move only favors the privatizer Continium Care Solutions and its president, Melvin Acosta, a regular political donor to the New Progressive Party, to whom, according to preliminary information, the contract would guarantee between $7 million and $10 million of ASEM’s collections.

“We have argued, documented and proven that this privatization only favors this political donor,” Guzmán López said. “Our message has been consistent in defending that the budgeted allocations, as well as the collections that the corporation [ASEM] achieves, are directed to prioritizing and ensuring operations that best benefit the services to citizens, and not to campaign donors or cronies.”

The union leader reiterated that ASEM’s economic problems do not lie in the billing of services, but rather in the inconsistency of payment by the same government instrumentalities that use these services, such as the Adult and Pediatric University Hospital, and the various insurers that maintain a million-dollar debt with ASEM.

“Other elements that affect ASEM’s collections are the significant arrears that different insurers have for the services provided to patients in private plans and also the disparity that exists between the rates that insurers pay to private hospitals versus what they pay to ASEM,” he said. “None of the past administrations has had the will to renegotiate rates to match payment for services. If these problems are addressed and positive results are achieved, this will result in improvements to the corporation’s economy, so it would not be necessary to privatize any service.”

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