Expect Moore: J. Michael Moore On Hospital Liens, Hail Litigation
The following is a feature of J. Michael Moore in the August 2015 issue of the RGV Law Book:
James Michael Moore, principal attorney and owner of the Moore Law Firm, begins his day early. Often, you’ll catch him writing emails at 5:00 AM to the firm attorneys and management, always inquiring on the progress of a multitude of cases and projects. Today, Moore can be found preparing for a deposition to be held later this afternoon in the firm’s conference room. The room is fresh and well lit. On the walls are publications and articles of Moore’s work for Rio Grande Valley hail damage claim victims that have stirred up quite a controversy, having reverberated through the halls of the Texas Capital and has ‘big insurance’ paying attention. “If the insurance company just takes care of the premium paying homeowner, there’d be no need for a lawsuit,” Moore says. The Moore Law Firm champions thousands of settlements for Rio Grande Valley victims and has distinguished itself as the alpha firm in hail damage cases.
“We can do more. Always expect more” is a mantra embedded in the fabric of the Moore Law Firm. It comes as no surprise that Moore, a McAllen native, husband, and father of four, sought to do exactly that. More. More for the community that raised him. “Nearly 40% of Valley residents are medically uninsured. Many people who are going to the hospital are being over-billed at a rate that is beyond anything regular or reasonable and having hospital liens filed against them,” says Moore. “The system simply doesn’t work. We live in one of the lowest household income areas in the United States and we have hospitals grossly over-billing their patients, forcing them to pay 600% to 1000% over market price for those services.”
Upon further research, Texas law actually prohibits hospitals from filing a hospital lien if it “exceeds the reasonable and regular rate,” and is “fraudulent with the intent to cause financial harm.” Investigative articles written by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and other independent researchers seem to legitimize Moore’s claims of fraudulent hospital over-billing being rampant not only in the Valley, but all over the country. In research featured in a recent issue of The Monitor (Sunday, June 14, 2015), Dr. Ge Bai, an accounting professor at Washington & Lee University, found that South Texas Health Systems, who owns and operates McAllen Medical Center, Cornerstone Hospital, and Edinburg Regional Medical Center among other medical facilities, billed patients on average 820% over the cost of the procedure.
When asked to comment on her research, Dr. Bai called the practice, simply, “price gouging.” Equipped with diligent research, Moore has positioned himself and the Moore Law Firm, again, at the pioneering end of another legal endeavor. When asked why he believed that no one else had thought to try these cases, Moore attributes it to the lack of information being delivered to the right people who can act on that information appropriately. “Often times, unfortunately, you’ll have a scenario where someone who does not have insurance is severely injured and in need of medical attention. They have a bill presented to them for an egregious amount, let’s say 10 times over the regular rate. The hospital cuts a ‘deal’ with these patients by cutting the bill in half. The problem is, that ‘discount’ is still 5 times more than the regular rate. And many people feel like they don’t have any other options other than to take the terrible ‘deal’ that the hospital has given them. Often times, they aren’t even aware that they’ve been swindled out of their money. It’s outrageous.”
At the time of this writing, the Moore Law Firm has over 2000 cases in the beginning stages of litigation. “The key is to educate the public about their rights in an area where most of this information is not shared enough. By plainly communicating to the community and being forward as a resource, we are positioning ourselves to do more.”
It’s late and only a few lights still zag across a now quiet hallway. The phones now silent as the tap of a few keyboards permeates into neighboring rooms. The sounds of an office now dim and Moore is facing his computer screen, reading over more emails. Through the example of their principal, the Moore Law Firm has quickly earned a reputation for doing the most.