As Checks and Balances Project reported on the business practices of Sentara Healthcare, we sought comment from the company’s top spokesperson — Danya Bushey – more than 20 times, so we could get the company’s version of events.

Bushey rarely responded.

But in recent stories in the Washington Post and Virginian-Pilot, as well as a full-page advertisement in the Virginian-Pilot, Sentara has cited alleged but unspecified errors in our work.

No other media organization provided as much scrutiny of Sentara as we did. Our coverage showed how Sentara gouged an uninsured patient for treatment of a kidney stone, benefited from a conflict of interest involving its outside attorney and a Norfolk judge, and was accused of interfering in the business activities of a rival hospital company.

Last week, a Wall Street Journal investigation showed that hospitals routinely charge uninsured patients more for services than they do with insurance coverage. That’s an echo of C&BP’s reporting in May about Sentara’s financial assistance policies that routinely result in uninsured patients paying higher rates for care than the insured.

C&BP also sought an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission into Sentara’s planned $11.5 billion merger with Cone Health of North Carolina and notified the attorneys general of North Carolina and Virginia about concerns with the merger.

Sentara announced last month it was stopping its merger plans.

If Sentara can cite specific errors, we welcome their comment, so we can correct the record. Until then, however, we will continue to view their claims as the public relations spin it is.

Ray Locker is enterprise and investigative editor of Checks and Balances Project, an investigative watchdog blog holding government officials, lobbyists, and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP is provided by Renew American Prosperity and individual donors.

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