ASHEVILLE – The closure of an alternative birth center has left some patients seeking reimbursement as the center begins a process of compulsory liquidation.
Due to the nonprofit WNC Birth Center’s revenue model, patients prepaid an estimated amount. Once any insurance was collected, they were either reimbursed for any overpayments after birth or required to pay an unpaid balance, said former chief executive Nancy Koerber.
But shortly after the 1,000th delivery to its South French Broad Avenue facility, the center announced its closure. after five years. Despite a growing number of patients, state regulations that hamper midwives and low reimbursement rates have “snowballed” into an irreconcilable financial situation, Koerber said.
The Closed on July 20 eliminated an option for mothers outside the traditional hospital birth setting. It also left some patients having paid for services they had not received.
Among them were Jerry and Devin Brown who prepaid for a birth before closing
“The center issued us a refund check for $ 479.19. The check cannot be cashed,” said Jerry Brown.
The check was returned due to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding that freezes payments and may even recover those already made within 90 days. Patients who owed money and other creditors must now file a claim for payment with the federal bankruptcy court.
Lawyer Robert Mays, the court-appointed administrator responsible for liquidating the centre’s assets, said the center does not appear to owe many patients.
“I understand that the debtor believes he owes a relatively small number of patients overpayments, and that a number of patients also owe the cost of their care,” he said on September 22.
Mays said he was “sure employees who have dedicated their careers to helping patients and providing them with an alternative to hospital are mortified” by the freeze on reimbursements.
A Sept. 16 bankruptcy petition filed by the center with the U.S. West District Bankruptcy Court of North Carolina said the center had $ 15,427 in overpayment from patients. Patients and others owe him $ 73,000, according to the petition.
The center has nearly $ 108,000 in assets and $ 828,000 in liabilities. Among the creditors is the non-profit Mountain Bizworks with a secured debt of $ 15,000. The people listed with senior unsecured debts were Koerber with $ 2,876, the Internal Revenue Service with $ 674 and the North Carolina Department of Revenue with $ 121.
In the past year, his gross revenues were $ 1.6 million. From June 1 to Sept. 15, he paid Koerber $ 20,135.
Koerber said she contacted Devin Brown on September 21 and had hoped the refund check would be cleared. She said she told Mays, the court-appointed administrator, that she wanted reimbursement of the patient to be a priority. He said it would be part of the Chapter 7 process.
“The board of directors and I are sincerely sorry that Devin was so impacted,” said the former director. “Our priority has always been that our patients who were entitled to reimbursements receive them as soon as we have been notified by our billing agency of an overpayment.”
The Browns did not respond to a follow-up message on the afternoon of September 22.
Joel Burgess has lived at WNC for over 20 years, covering politics, government and other news. He has written award-winning stories on topics ranging from gerrymandering to police use of force. Help us support this type of journalism with a subscription at the Citizen Times.