Colorado bill wants hospitals to put their names on medical debt lawsuits

Colorado lawmakers have introduced a bill that would require hospitals to use their own names when suing patients over unpaid medical bills, ABC affiliate KJCT reported April 3. 

The House bill would bar debt collection agencies from taking any action against a patient unless it names the hospital as a plaintiff, or the agency purchases entire ownership of the debt, according to the report. Debt collection agencies would also be prohibited from seeking a warrant or otherwise promoting the arrest or detainment in any legal action against the patient. 

Debt collection agencies are arguing that requiring hospitals to be named as plaintiffs could violate patient privacy laws, according to the report. 

The legislation comes after an investigation found that Aurora, Colo.-based UCHealth sued patients 15,710 over the past five years for money they owe to the health system. The investigation found that many of the lawsuits have been kept from public scrutiny due to UCHealth working with collection companies that file the lawsuits under their names, not the nonprofit health system's name. 

A UCHealth spokesperson told Becker's in February that its billing practices are "in line with the policies of most health care providers across the nation." 

"We offer extensive financial assistance resources, and we reach out to patients numerous times offering to screen them for assistance," the spokesperson said. "Sending an account to collections is always a last resort."



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