As hospitals across the country take heat for hard-nosed debt collection practices, the Healthcare Association of New York State has adopted guidelines for member hospitals for providing financial aid and charity care to uninsured patients. The six-page document recommends eligibility guidelines, discount payment policies and collection policies and vows that the "fear of a hospital bill should never get in the way of a New Yorker receiving essential health services." Among other things, the guidelines say that at a minimum hospitals should offer financial assistance to people with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level. HANYS also recommends that hospitals offer discounts to the uninsured similar to the discounts enjoyed by Medicaid and private health plans, and the guidelines stipulate that hospitals should not force the sale or foreclosure of a patient's primary residence to pay a medical bill. The HANYS board adopted the guidelines Jan. 16. They were sent to the group's 230 members last week, said Monica Mahaffey, a HANYS spokeswoman. -- by Cinda Becker
Hospital group adopts guidance for debt collection
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