The Obama administration has adopted new rules that limit nonprofit hospitals from using “aggressive tactics” to collect payments from low-income patients. Instead, nonprofit hospitals must offer discounts, free care, or other financial assistance to certain types of needy patients. Furthermore, hospitals must also determine whether a patient is eligible for financial assistance before they refer the case to a debt collector, send information to a credit agency, place a lien on a patient’s home, file a lawsuit, or seek a court order to seize a patient’s earnings. Advocates of the new rules believe they will make it easier for low and moderate-income people to get care without worrying about the financial consequences. Additionally, under the new rules, each nonprofit hospital must assess the health needs of its community at least once every three years and establish and publicize a written financial policy stating who is eligible and how to apply.
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