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Silverdale man sues CHI Franciscan after medical bill mix-up

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A Silverdale man said he got stuck with someone else’s medical bill.

John Muller is a pilot who’s mapping out his next move.

“Every date, time, who I talked to, what I talked to them about… Who would think you need to do that?” Muller asked.

You need to do that when you have to prove who you are to debt collectors.

“You’re powerless when you’re dealing with these people,” Muller said.

Muller said CHI Franciscan Health tossed him into collections and wrecked his credit for a bill that wasn’t his.

“All the phone calls, all the hours of me sitting there, holding my baby boy on the phone with collection companies, credit bureaus, on my time at home,” Muller said.  “It’s supposed to be spent with my family.”

Tacoma-based CHI Franciscan has nine hospitals and 200 primary and specialty care clinics in the region.   Muller said someone from one of their hospitals, St. Francis in Tacoma, called him about test results.

“{A nurse from St. Francis Hospital in Tacoma} said ‘Is this John J. Miller? We have your test results.’ And I said ‘No, this is John H. Muller. And I’ve never been to your hospital,’” Muller said. “I figured that’s all that needed to be said and they would take care of it.”

Muller thought the unknown Miller was out of his life forever until Muller applied for a Costco credit card.

“I had no doubt that I would get the card,” Muller said.  “And, denied, right in front of a bunch of people waiting.”

Soon after, Muller got a collection letter from Central Financial Control or CFC. It’s CHI Franciscan’s collection agency.  Muller said the collection notice was sent to his address in John Miller’s name.  It also named another person with the last name of Miller on it.

“I have no idea who either one of them are,” Muller said.

Miller is the 7th most popular last name in the country.  More than 22,000 of those have the name ‘John Miller.’

Muller said calls to CFC and the hospital got little or nothing done.

“Give us 30 to 45 days and it will get cleared up,” credit bureaus and hospitals told Muller.  “And you can try applying for that Costco card again.  So I did. Denied.  It took over a year and a half, and the fourth time I applied for my Costco Visa Card was a charm!”

John Muller is taking CHI Franciscan and CFC to court, for in part, using false, deceptive or misleading representations in collection of an alleged debt.

In a statement, Cary Evans, Vice President of Communications & Government Affairs for CHI Franciscan said, in part:

“Our goal is to get our billing right 100% of the time, but mistakes happen and we are committed to resolving them when they do. This litigation over a bill for $274.80 is ongoing, and the attorney for John Muller has rejected our efforts to bring this case to a close.”

Muller said this isn’t about $274.80.  He said he’s suing because a large medical system can’t tell the difference between Muller and Miller, violating the medical privacy of man and the financial viability of another.

“Hopefully they can fix their system so that nobody else has to deal with it,” Muller said.  “That’s what I want.”

A representative from CFC said “it is not their practice to provide comment on pending litigation. They will allow the legal process to take its course.”

There is a conference set between the three parties this month.

Muller claims the defendants also violated the Consumer Protection Act.  Muller and his lawyer believe this is not the only case like this.

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