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House votes yes to changes to Idaho Patient Act

Rep. Jason Monks, R- Meridian, reads a bill that adds a new section to the Idaho Patient Act | Screenshot
BOISE — The Idaho House of Representatives voted unanimously on Monday to changes to a law passed in 2020 that limits medical debt collection.
Last week, Rep. Jason Monks, R-Meridian, introduced the changes to the Idaho Patient Act. House Bill 42 proposes time extensions for “extraordinary collection actions” on medical debts for all goods and services provided to a patient before July 1, 2021.
Extraordinary collection actions include garnishment of wages, arrest, liens on property and other actions requiring the judicial system.
When it passed originally, the Idaho Patient Act required providers to submit a bill to a patient’s insurance company or to the patient within 45 days of providing a service. Within 60 days of service, patients receive a single list of everyone who will bill them.
Medical providers cannot sue a patient or turn a bill over to collections until 90 days after the patient receives a final statement. The Idaho Patient Act also limits attorney fees on medical debt.
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If medical providers do not submit the documents, they cannot take extraordinary collection actions.
The new bill makes it so medical providers have unlimited time to get the paperwork in order and send a person to collections for services provided up to July 1.
Idaho Hospital Association President Brian Whitlock told the House Business Committee that supporters of the Patient Act learned health care providers needed more time. COVID-19 threw a wrench into the medical providers’ plans across the state and made it necessary to add more time to put systems in place, he said.
“They are intent on protecting patients and implementing the Idaho Patient Act,” Whitlock said. “They just lost the extra time they were originally given by this Legislature to do that.”
The Idaho Patient Act came about last year after Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot called for stricter regulations on medical debt collections. Medical Recovery Services (MRS) sued one of VanderSloot’s Melaleuca employees for an outstanding $294 bill she said she didn’t know she had.
After several court hearings, Bryan Smith, an MRS attorney, requested nearly $6,000 in attorney fees.
EastIdahoNews.com ran a series of articles about MRS, and VanderSloot said he was shocked by the number of people with similar stories. He and his wife, Belinda, created a $1 million fund to help defend Idahoans against unfair medical debt collection practices and spent months working with lawmakers in crafting the Idaho Patient Act.
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With the bill passed by the House, the bill will now go to the Senate floor for debate. If passed by the Senate, the legislation would go into effect as soon as the governor signs the bill.
The post House votes yes to changes to Idaho Patient Act appeared first on East Idaho News.
Source: eastidahonews.com

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