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Department of Treasury Proposes Limitations on Patient Debt Collections

On June 22, 2012, the U.S. Department of Treasury released proposed regulations on a provision in the Affordable Care Act that addresses the collection of unpaid hospital debt. The proposed rules require non-profit hospitals, as a condition of receiving a tax-exemption, to establish billing and collections procedures for patients eligible for financial assistance. It also requires non-profit hospitals to provide patients with the information needed to apply for such assistance.

According to the proposed rule, nonprofit hospitals must:

- Provide patients with a plain language summary of the financial assistance policy before discharge and with the first three bills;

- Give patients at least 120 days following the first bill to submit an application for financial assistance before commencing certain collection actions;

- Give the patient an additional 120 days (for 240 days total) to submit a complete application;

- If a patient is determined eligible for financial assistance during these 240 days, refund any excess payments made before applying for aid and seek to reverse any collections actions already commenced.

The proposed rule also outlines requirements for providing financial assistance, seeks to limit charges and mandates a non-discriminatory emergency medical care policy.

According to the American Hospital Association, approximately 2,900 out of all 5,750 U.S. hospitals are classified as nonprofit institutions.

ACA International will prepare comments in advance of the comment period deadline on Sept. 24, 2012.

Written by Pulse

Last modified onSunday, 06 January 2013 03:49
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