South Carolina hospital sued over debt collection practices

Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia, S.C., allegedly uses unlawful debt collection practices that violate federal bankruptcy rules.

A lawsuit filed Jan. 10 by three former patients alleges the nonprofit hospital seized their tax refunds to cover past-due medical bills after they filed for bankruptcy. Federal law requires companies to pause collection efforts after someone enters bankruptcy, according to The Post and Courier.

Lexington Medical Center uses South Carolina's Setoff Debt Collection Program to withhold patients' tax refunds to cover delinquent bills. In 2015, Lexington Medical Center collected $15.6 million from tax refunds. That number grew to $19.2 million in 2017, according to the report.

Lexington Medical Center has not responded to the complaint. A spokesperson told The Post and Courier that "it would be inappropriate to comment on pending litigation at this time."

Lawyers representing the former patients are seeking class action status. They filed the lawsuit on behalf of anyone from whom Lexington Medical Center has unlawfully collected debt. 

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