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Federal Proposals Would Limit Aggressive Hospital Collections Practices

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, July 3, 2012

Lost in the shuffle amid last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision is proposed legislation and a proposed regulation that each seek to address the issue of aggressive hospital debt collection.

 

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) introduced the End Debt Collector Abuse Act of 2012 last Wednesday. The act would amend the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to include medical debt and would set limits on the access that debt collectors can have to hospital patients.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of the Treasury released proposed regulations on policies for patient financial assistance and emergency medical care that hospitals must develop as a condition of receiving or maintaining tax-exempt status. The regulations are required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Franken’s proposed bill reflects the findings of hearings he held on the hospital debt collection practices of Chicago-based Accretive Health, Inc. Those hearings followed a report from Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson alleging that Accretive's debt collection and patient privacy practices violated federal health, debt collection, and privacy laws.

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