Survivors of the June 12 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando will not have to pay their hospital bills.
That according to an announcement on August 24 by Orlando Health and Florida Hospital, reports the Orlando Sentinel. The hospitals will write off an estimated $5.5 million or more in treatment and care of the victims of the gay nightclub tragedy.
The shooting occurred when ISIS devotee Omar Mateen went on a rampage in the club with an assault rifle, killing 49 and wounding 53, before being killed by a Swat team, as The New York Times summarized at the time.
Explaining the decision to absorb the costs, Orlando Health President and CEO David Strong said:
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The Pulse shooting was a horrendous tragedy for the victims, their families and our entire community. During this very trying time, many organizations, individuals and charities have reached out to Orlando Health to show their support. This is simply our way of paying that kindness forward.
Orlando Health will send bills to health insurers for patients who had coverage, and will absorb the costs of whatever those policies don’t cover, said spokeswoman Kena Lewis.
Florida Hospital, however, will absorb all costs -- including any required follow-up surgeries -- without billing insurance at all, officials announced.
Mario Lopez, a 34-year-old victim of the shooting, welcomed the news. "I was so worried because I can't afford any of that," he said. "I just went out for a fun night with friends. No one expected this to happen. My life was turned upside down, and then I had to worry about how I was going to pay back the hospital."
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Regarding future medical needs of the victims, Orlando Health's Lewis admitted, "While we can't assume the answer is free care forever, we will use our very generous charity and financial assistance policies to assess the best way [to help]."