New York Passes Legislation to Protect Consumers from Medical Debt Collection Practices
By Consumers for Quality Care, on September 14, 2022
The New York State Legislature has passed a set of bills giving consumers added protection from medical debt collection practices, according to the Kiowa County Press.
Lawmakers have passed two bills in both the Assembly and the Senate. One bill bans medical liens and wage garnishments, while the other regulates “facility fees” and requires consumers to be informed of potential costs related to treatment and services up front.
These bills are much needed to address hospitals’ workarounds of charging additional costs prohibited by the Affordable Care Act. Dr. Elisabeth Benjamin, Vice President of Health Initiatives at the Community Service Society (CCS) of New York, noted this technique regarding “facility fees.”
“We helped one woman who went in for her preventive mammogram and she was charged a $250 facility fee. Well, that’s just a secret end run around the Affordable Care Act prohibition on charging copays for preventive services. You’re not supposed to charge a patient a dime when they get a preventive service like a mammogram,” said Dr. Benjamin.
In addition to ending these types of added administrative costs, the bills also address the types of medical debt collection practices allowed. Under the newly passed legislation, consumers cannot have their wages garnished or liens placed against physical property, such as their home.
CQC applauds New York state lawmakers for their work and urges legislators across the nation to crack down on predatory medical debt practices.