Partner Bruce M. Brusavich authored the Advocate article “Medical Liens and the Current Status of Howell” to analyze the Howell case and its lasting impact.
In 2011, Rebecca Howell was insured with a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) when she was seriously injured in a traffic collision by a Hamilton Meats employee. Because of a pre-injury arrangement between Ms. Howell's medical providers and her PPO, roughly $130,000 of her nearly $200,000 in medical costs were “written off,” meaning that Ms. Howell would not be held responsible for them by her medical providers.
Due to this arrangement, the trial court granted a post-trial motion to reduce the damages Ms. Howell was to be awarded by the amount of the write-offs. This ruling was upheld by the California Supreme Court, which drew a distinction between pre-injury negotiated medical care rates and situations where rates are negotiated after the medical services are provided, the medical provider writes off some or all of the bill, or the plaintiff receives charitable care.
In his article, Mr. Brusavich discusses this ruling and several other cases that have stemmed from it, as well as Howell's effects on valuing medical damages and negotiating hospital liens.