Georgia hospital gives OK for South Carolina government to act as debt collector

AU Medical Center in Augusta, Ga., has agreed to use a South Carolina program to seize tax refunds from patients with overdue bills, according to The Augusta Chronicle.

A resolution passed May 3 by the hospital's board calls for the medical center and AU Health to enter the South Carolina Setoff Debt collection system.

The program allows the South Carolina revenue department to help eligible organizations and governmental entities collect debt by garnishing residents' tax refunds, according to the department website.

South Carolina hospitals have used the setoff program to take millions from residents' tax refunds for unpaid medical bills.

There is no cost to the claimant for the South Carolina revenue department to collect the debt, but the person owing the debt is responsible for a $25 administrative fee, according to the department. 

Hospital officials said the program applies to aged or long past due accounts, and patients still are able to contest the obligation if they contend it is not owed or the incorrect amount is sought.

AU Health, which includes 478-bed AU Medical Center, is a nonprofit academic health center that manages clinical operations associated with Augusta University. Debt collected would be for South Carolina residents who visited an Augusta University Health facility.


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