8 updates on medical debt

Here eight study findings, legislative and other actions regarding medical debt Becker's has reported on since Sept. 28: 

1. New Mexico hospital sued over alleged illegal debt collections

Las Cruces, N.M.-based Mountain View Regional Medical Center is facing a class-action lawsuit alleging the hospital sued hundreds of patients over unpaid medical bills who should have been protected by a state law, NM Political Report reported Oct. 12. 

2. Medical debt 'collections machine' restarting in Wisconsin after pandemic pause: report

Some Wisconsin healthcare providers that paused or significantly reduced medical debt collection practices early in the COVID-19 pandemic are "restarting the collections machine," according to an Oct. 11 report from ABC for Health, a nonprofit public interest law firm based in Madison. 

3. Arizona voters will decide on proposition to reduce interest rates on medical debt

Arizona voters will decide on a ballot measure designed to reduce interest rates on medical debt and prevent bankruptcies, The Arizona Republic reported Oct. 10. The measure, Proposition 209, would lower the interest rate on medical debt and increase the amount of home equity, personal property, assets and income protected from certain creditors. 

4. 20% of Americans with medical debt don't think they'll ever pay it off

Research indicates that rising healthcare costs continue to be a dominant concern in the U.S., and the unequal consequences of healthcare debt are evident in the findings, with nearly 20 percent of Americans reporting medical debt they do not think they can ever pay off, according to an Oct. 6 report from NPR.

5. New medical debt reporting rules falling short with some Americans: report

New rules designed to prevent medical debt from hurting credit scores are not helping people with the highest amounts of medical debt — most often Black Americans and people living in the South — according to an Oct. 3 report from Kaiser Health News and NPR.

6. Providence to repay Medicaid patients who were charged in 'unintended error,' CFO says

Citing an "unintended error," Renton, Wash.-based Providence said Oct. 2 it is reimbursing about 760 patients whose accounts were sent to debt collectors. The health system's announcement comes after a Sept. 24 New York Times report detailed Providence's alleged debt collection practices. The health system has denied wrongdoing. 

7. North Carolina church relieves all of county's qualifying medical debt

Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Trinity Moravian Church raised enough money to relieve all of the qualifying medical debt in Forsyth County, the Winston-Salem Journal reported Oct. 2. 

8. These are the largest US counties with the most medical debt

Of the 20 largest counties in the U.S., Texas counties have the highest percentage of residents with medical debt, according to a Sept. 28 Kaiser Health News analysis of Urban Credit Institute data. 

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