Tax exempt hospitals are required by law to provide charity care to patients who cannot afford their hospital expenses. Furthermore, nonprofit hospitals cannot go after past due balances through extraordinarily aggressive debt collection actions such as suing these patients or seeking the garnishment of their wages. However, according to an investigation recently published by MLK50, a member of ProPublica, that is exactly what one of the largest healthcare systems in the country did when poor patients fell behind. The report reveals relentless debt collection efforts by a number of tax exempt hospitals who sued patients who had very little money, often winning judgments to seize the paychecks of those already stretched too thin.
The rampant abuse has not escaped the attention of lawmakers such as the chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a leading critic of nonprofit hospitals that misuse their tax exempt status. Turning up the heat on hospital collection practices, the Senator has called on various nonprofits to explain their debt collection, charity care, and billing practices that spell financial doom for struggling families across the nation.
Fortunately, all the attention brought to unlawful collection practices has resulted in one large hospital recently dropping hundreds of lawsuits against patients and has put the kibosh on other lawsuits being filed. The subject of the most recent investigation by ProPublica has gone further by expanding its threshold for financial assistance to uninsured patients whose household incomes fall below 250% of the federal poverty guideline, up from 125% previously, translating to incomes of roughly 65K or less for a family of four.
Because many Americans struggle to afford necessary care when a medical issue arises, whether they have insurance or not, it is important to understand your hospital’s policies regarding financial assistance for patients of limited means. If you believe that your hospital’s policies are not compliant with their tax exempt status, legal action may be necessary to obtain relief. In the event that you or a family member have exhausted all avenues of financial assistance and are still struggling with medical debt, bankruptcy protection may be an option to eliminate medical debt as well as other unsecured debt such as credit cards that many use to make ends meet when a medical issue arises.
Harassed by Aggressive Medical Debt Collectors?
Contact an Experienced Illinois Medical Debt Discharge Attorney for Help
If you are harassed by aggressive hospital debt collection or you have questions regarding a medical debt bankruptcy, contact Peoria Illinois bankruptcy attorney Charles E. Covey for for answers and help today at 309-674-8125.