Oklahoma Legislature Moves Closer to Requiring Unpaid State Medical Debts Be Placed With Outside Agency

The Oklahoma legislature yesterday moved a step closer to enacting a law that will require the state’s Health Care Authority to outsource unpaid debts to a third-party collection agency.

Under the law, the OHCA is allowed to place unpaid debts with a third-party agency, but does not normally do so. The only type of debts that would be allowed to be placed with an agency would be for when an individual gets hurt or becomes sick because of someone else’s negligence.

The Oklahoma House and Senate have approved different versions of the bill, which is now going back to the Senate to approved amendments from the House version of the bill.

If the bill passes, the collection agency hired by the state would be entitled to a 20% commission on any funds recovered, according to a published report.

Some large debts are currently being placed with a third-party agency, and that agency recovered about $100,000 last year, which is less than what was recovered by the three-person staff at the OHCA responsible for collections.

“So, I wonder, if we were able to find twice as many people with their qualities, could we bring in twice as much? Perhaps, and I’m all for that,” said Rep. Forrest Bennett said. “But I’d love it to be people who work directly for the agency, who are accountable directly to us.”

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