Maryland changes medical debt collection rules for hospitals

A law that took effect Jan. 1 changes medical debt collection rules for hospitals and providers in Maryland, according to NPR affiliate WAMU

The law aims to protect low-income residents from medical debt and applies to patients making 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level, according to the report. 

The law makes several changes, including forbidding hospitals to place liens on homes, prohibiting hospitals from collecting debt until 180 days after the bill is issued, and preventing the garnishment of wages to collect on unpaid medical debt. Additionally, the law extends the timeline for patients to apply for free or reduced-cost care and requires hospitals to have patients sign a form that they have been informed about the hospital's charity care policy and ensures patients' payment plans do not exceed 5 percent of their annual income.  

The bill passed unanimously in both legislative chambers, according to the report.  

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