HB2811-SB120 Relative to Fairness in Debt Collection

Joint Committee on Financial Services

The Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA), on behalf of its member hospitals and health systems, physician organizations and allied healthcare providers, appreciates this opportunity to offer comments related to HB2811/SB120, “An Act Relative to Family Financial Protection.”

Hospitals have a long history of working with all patients to ensure that any individuals seeking access to medically necessary services are aware of, and able to, enroll in an available financial assistance program to cover the costs of the care. In addition, requirements for educating patients on the availability of financial assistance to prevent unpaid patient medical bills have been developed through the federal Affordable Care Act and the Massachusetts Health Safety Net (HSN) program. Under both federal and state law, hospitals are required, in certain circumstances, to develop a payment plan for patients, similar to the consumer form contract as outlined in HB2811/SB120, to cover the cost of certain deductibles and co-payments.

In particular, state regulation 101 CMR 613.08(1) (g) provides:
           A Patient with a balance of $1,000 or less, after initial deposit, must be offered at least a one-year, interest-          free payment plan with a minimum monthly payment of no more than $25. A Patient with a balance of
          more than $1,000, after initial deposit, must be offered at least a two-year, interest-free payment plan.

While we support the general principles of HB2811/SB120, MHA believes it is important to ensure any such bill provides some level of flexibility to minimize potential conflicts with existing state law and regulations. If the committee acts favorably on this bill, MHA respectfully recommends the inclusion of a clarifying “notwithstanding current laws or regulations” clause or a similar provision allowing for an exception from current laws. Such clarification would help minimize any confusion for hospitals and patients related to the statutory application of this bill.

Thank you for the opportunity to offer testimony on this important matter. If you have any questions, or require further information, please contact Michael Sroczynski, MHA’s Vice President of Government Advocacy, at (781) 262-6055 or msroczynski@mhalink.org.