U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, sent a letter to consulting giant McKinsey & Company questioning the company about its role in helping nonprofit hospitals like Providence Health take financial advantage of low-income patients. The senators' letter comes as reporting revealed that McKinsey was paid $45 million to help Providence create a plan to "wring money" out of patients and "pressure them to pay" -- even when they were entitled to free care.
"Providence's questionable partnership with McKinsey reveals the predatory influence of for-profit consulting firms that prioritize profits over care When enlisted to help senior executives at Providence increase revenues, McKinsey created a program rife with alarming and predatory tactics that appear to violate the hospital's nonprofit commitments," wrote the senators.
A recent investigation by the New York Times uncovered a deal between Providence and McKinsey that resulted in a plan to use predatory tactics to pressure patients into paying for their care, no matter their income or ability to pay. As a result, more than 55,000 patients were pursued by debt collectors when they should have been offered discounts due to their socioeconomic status.
"The disturbing reports raise numerous questions about the behavior of both McKinsey and Providence, and we write to seek a greater understanding of the full scope of McKinsey's partnerships with nonprofit hospitals and the extent to which vulnerable patients may be exploited by them," wrote the senators.
McKinsey has previously faced scrutiny for questionable healthcare consulting activity, including settling claims brought by local governments and school districts that alleged the firm's work for Purdue Pharma helped fuel the opioid addiction. The company is additionally facing ongoing lawsuits from Native American tribes and families of children harmed by their parents' use of these opioids during pregnancy.
"This behavior demonstrates a flagrant prioritization of your own company's bottom line ahead of the public health and well-being of vulnerable communities," concluded the senators.
The senators are calling on McKinsey to provide information on their work with Providence and their role in its predatory practices no later than March 6, 2023.
Senator Warren has long fought to ensure affordable access to healthcare for all and stop aggressive debt collection practices from unfairly targeting patients:
In December 2018, Senator Warren and Representative Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to the consulting firm McKinsey & Company regarding its work for Puerto Rico's Financial Oversight & Management Board and raised questions about McKinsey's potential conflicts of interest after a recent report revealed that the consulting firm-which closely advises the Oversight Board on Puerto Rico's fiscal plans, budgets, and debt-holds at least $20 million of Puerto Rico's bonds.
In November 2018, Senator Warren sent letters to McKinsey & Company and 22 other U.S. lobbying firms requesting information on the scope of their lobbying services for the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or any Saudi government-affiliated entity.
In October 2018, Senator Warren sent a letter to McKinsey & Company requesting information about the scope of its consulting services to, or for the benefit of, the Saudi government and requesting that a full, transparent accounting of how McKinsey's work may have enabled the Kingdom to repress critics and commit other human rights abuses.