U of Kentucky HealthCare improperly collected medical debt, judge rules

A Kentucky judge ruled that Lexington-based UK HealthCare improperly used the state's department of revenue and tax statutes to collect unpaid medical bills, the Lexington Herald Leader reported Aug. 19.

Patients filed a class action lawsuit against the health system in 2018, according to the report. The patients said their unpaid bills were turned over to the department of revenue for collections. The department added interest and a 25 percent collection fee. The patients' wages and tax returns were garnished to cover the bills. 

UK HealthCare argued it acted properly and cited three state laws that are intended for executive agencies to recover funds that were improperly paid, according to the report. Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate ruled those laws didn't allow for UK HealthCare to turn over the debts because they only relate to collections for payments that were improperly made because of error, fraud or abuse.     

The decision was a partial ruling in an ongoing case, according to the report. The amount UK HealthCare will have to repay is unknown, but an attorney for the patients told the outlet it could be upwards of $90 million. 

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