The General Assembly passed SB 5 concerning hospital and ambulance liens. If I’m reading it right, it adds a Medicare or Medicaid patient as a person against whom a hospital cannot hold a lien against the person’s personal injury claim. The lien has to be reduced to reflect write offs and adjustments to which the patient is entitled under the patient’s insurance policy. (Can’t jack up the price or balance bill the chargemaster rate just because the person ultimately footing the bill is going to be, say, an auto insurance company instead of the person’s Anthem policy.)
The hospital is also apparently barred from compromising its lien claim with the tortfeasor without also waiving, as to the patient, the remainder of the hospital fee balance secured by that lien.
I also find this sentence troublesome, “A hospital lienholder is barred from enforcing the collection of charges covered by this chapter until the cause of action, suit, or claim accruing to the patient has been resolved by compromise, settlement, or judgment.” Now, I think what this means is that, if the hospital asserts a lien against the personal injury claim, it can’t, at the same time, try to collect the debt from the patient who received the services until the cause of action asserted by the patient against the tortfeasor has terminated. But, I can see a personal injury attorney trying to help out a client, saying that, even if the hospital hasn’t secured a lien against the judgment that, the hospital bill is still a “charge covered by this chapter” and making the hospital wait to collect — no matter how tenuous the personal injury claim might be and no matter how lackadaisical the patient/plaintiff is in pursuing the claim against the tortfeasor. You could get out of paying a bill for years by paying $150 to file suit against a marginal defendant with no money to hire a lawyer; then just kick that claim down the road as long and as often as a court will let it sit on the docket; stymying collection efforts by the hospital.
The hospital has to assert its lien within 90 days and not later than the date of a settlement. The legislation also repeals the law concerning ambulance liens but makes it clear that existing liens are still valid and that an ambulance company is still entitled to charge and collect for its services even if it’s not entitled to secure its interest by asserting a lien.