Patients, advocates push for changes to medical debt rules in New Mexico

Marissa Plescia (Twitter) - Print  | 

The New Mexico Office of Superintendent of Insurance on Sept. 27 listened to several testimonies from patients, advocates and medical providers asking for better protections when it comes to medical debt for low-income patients, KRWG reported.

Advocates want to change draft rules to require hospitals, urgent cares and medical providers to check if patients qualify for protection from lawsuits and connect them with public assistance. 

They also want to stop the protection from expiring after 12 months, which the current draft rules allow.

Maria Burciaga told the hearing officer at the meeting about her experience delivering her son, which would have cost $10,000 without Medicaid. But the hospital didn't tell her Medicaid was an option and instead, she found out through her sister. 

Because she received coverage, her son was cared for after arriving early, as was she during postpartum complications.

"I was glad to be able to focus on getting better and raising my son — not on medical bills," she said. "We must require hospitals to screen patients for assistance and protect them from medical debt if they earn a low income."

Nicolas Cordova, staff attorney with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, spoke about the 12-month expiration on protection.

"With an expiration on protection, the worst actors will simply wait 12 months until the protection lapses and then swoop in, sending patients to collections or court," he said.

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