A new Connecticut law that seeks to protect patients from aggressive hospital bill collectors was signed last week by Governor John Rowland. Effective Oct. 1, the law lowers the interest rate hospitals can charge for outstanding bills to 5% from 10% and forbids hospitals from garnishing wages, seizing bank accounts or putting liens on homes without an additional court order, even if the hospital has prevailed in a collections lawsuit. Hospitals also are prohibited from suing for nonpayment of a bill if the patient qualifies for free-bed funds, state assistance or Medicaid. In addition, every time a bill collector contacts a debtor, the collector must tell them about free care programs. The law followed a state lawsuit filed in February against Yale-New Haven Hospital for allegedly withholding millions of dollars in charitable funds intended for indigent patients. Hospital officials deny the allegations. -- by Cinda Becker
Conn. law restricts hospital collection activities
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.