JPS Hospital won't send bill to husband of brain-dead woman

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by JOBIN PANICKER

Bio | Email | Follow: @jobinpnews

WFAA

Posted on March 14, 2014 at 11:59 AM

Updated Friday, Mar 14 at 10:31 PM

The husband of Marlise Muñoz will not be billed for his wife's controversial 62-day hospital stay... but her insurance company will.

She was the pregnant North Texas woman who suffered a grave blood clot and was declared brain-dead late last year.

John Peter Smith Hospital said its interpretation of Texas law required doctors to keep Marlise Muñoz on life support until her unborn child might possibly be viable.

But the hospital's decision went against the wishes of husband Erick Muñoz.

A judge later ruled the law did not apply in this case, because Muñoz had been ruled brain-dead. She was then removed from treatment after more than two months.

JPS confirmed Friday it would not bill Muñoz's husband directly for expenses related to the life-support treatment, but said it does want to be paid.

"JPS Health Network is following its standard process for identifying reimbursement in the Marlise Munoz case, as it would in any patient case," the hospital said in a written statement. "We are working through Erick Muñoz’s insurance company."

News 8 asked how big Marlise’s bill was, but the hospital said that is protected information.

We also asked what if Muñoz's insurance does not cover it or is unwilling, what happens next? JPS did not have a response to that question.

Adam Powell is an expert on Healthcare Economics. Although he cannot speak to this specific situation, he is not surprised a public hospital is a making this decision.

“As a tax-payer financed hospital, this hospital is willing to write off some things because that is one way that it serves the community," he said.

The Muñoz and Machado families are keeping quiet for now, a decision attorneys and the family mutually agreed on.

E-mail jpanicker@wfaa.com

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