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Idaho Introduces ‘Idaho Patient Act’ Relating to Medical Collections

medical debtIdaho HB 425, the Idaho Patient Act, was introduced on Feb. 6, 2020, to address the perceived issue that “current Idaho law enables excessive attorney’s fees and fails to provide judges with clear guidance to combat abuses of the collections process.” This proposed law would apply to “any person” and does not limit its application to debt collectors.

The bill establishes requirements for taking “extraordinary collection actions” against a “patient.” Extraordinary collection actions are defined as any of the following in connection with a patient’s debt:

  • Prior to 60 days from the patient’s receipt of a “final statement,” selling, transferring, or assigning any amount of a patient’s debt to any third party, or otherwise authorizing any third party to collect the debt in a name other than the name of the health care provider;
  • Reporting adverse information about the patient to a consumer reporting agency; or
  • Commencing any judicial or legal action or filing or recording any document in relation thereto, including but not limited to:
    • (i) Placing a lien on a person’s property or assets;
    • (ii) Attaching or seizing a person’s bank account or any other personal property;
    • (iii) Initiating a civil action against any person; or
    • (iv) Garnishing an individual’s wages.

The bill also defines the requirements of a final statement which would be required to include particular information and disclosures.

Before taking “extraordinary collection actions” all of the following requirements must be satisfied:

  1. The health care provider submits its charges to third-party payors within 45 days of the date of service or discharge, whichever is later;
  2. The patient receives a “consolidated summary of services” within 60 days of the date of service or discharge, whichever is later;
  3. The patient receives a final statement from the billing entity of the health care provider;
  4. The health care provider does not charge or accrue any interest, fees or other charges until 60 days from the patient’s receipt of the final statement; and
  5. 180 days have passed from the patient’s receipt of the final statement “and final resolution of all internal reviews, good faith disputes, and appeals of any charges or third-party payor obligations or payments.

Fees and costs associated with extraordinary collection actions are limited to the following unless a petition for a supplemental award is granted:

  • Uncontested Judgment: $350 or an amount equal to 100% of the outstanding principal, whichever is less, plus prejudgment interest.
  • Contested Judgment: $750 or an amount equal to 100% of the outstanding principal, whichever is less, plus prejudgment interest.
  • Postjudgment Motions and Writs: $75 for any successful motion or application for a writ and $25 for subsequent applications for writs.

And, if the patient in “a contested judgment is a prevailing party,” the patient can recover attorney’s fees and costs “in contesting the action.”  

Finally, persons who take “extraordinary collection actions” in violation of the proposed law would be liable for the greater of the patient’s actual damages or $1,000.

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Eric Rosenkoetter is a principal at Maurice Wutscher LLP, where he provides counsel to businesses and consumer financial services firms nationwide. For many years, he has focused his practice on various aspects of financial services law. As a litigation attorney, he has conducted every aspect of the litigation process, including countless depositions, motion proceedings, bench and jury trials, and appeals in various courts. In addition, he has significant experience as a compliance and transactional attorney, providing strategic, business growth, legislative, compliance and regulatory advice to national corporations and trade associations. For example, he has drafted consumer contracts and disclosures designed to state-specific statutory requirements, and developed “Best Practices” guides and state-by-state compliance grids, for national financial services companies. He also conducted research and crafted a metrics report for a national trade association with analysis designed to counter the claims of advocacy groups. Eric’s experience also includes working for a national corporation as Executive Counsel, Chief Compliance and Ethics Officer, and Director of Legislative Affairs, and as a federal lobbyist and Director of Government and Public Affairs for a national financial services trade association. In the government sector, Eric presided over approximately 6,000 state administrative hearings, served as a staff attorney for the Missouri Senate, and handled litigation in 33 counties as a regional managing attorney. Eric frequently speaks to audiences on topics relevant to the financial services industry including regulatory compliance, data privacy law and related advocacy initiatives. For more information, see https://mauricewutscher.com/attorneys/eric-rosenkoetter/

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