SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The city of San Francisco is suing three insurance companies that City Attorney Dennis Herrera claims have shortchanged San Francisco General Hospital on emergency care reimbursements.

The lawsuit has been filed against Blue Cross of California, Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company and Health Net.

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“These three defendants are violating state law, which sets the rates by which public hospitals have to charge for emergency care, by arbitrarily saying that they were only going to pay a portion of the rates,” said San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera.

KCBS’ Barbara Taylor Reports:

He said the low reimbursements end up costing all San Franciscans.

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“These defendants are putting on the backs of taxpayers the obligation to make up the shortfalls,” said Herrera.

He is seeking an injunction to force the insurers to pay more, along with civil penalties of $2,500 for each violation.

Health Net has no comment while officials with Anthem Blue Cross are disputing the claims. The insurer said it will vigorously defend its billing practices.

San Francisco General Hospital provides the only Level I trauma center for 1.5 million residents of San Francisco and northern San Mateo County, and its emergency department receives more than 50,000 emergency visits per year.

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