A bill has been passed by the Idaho state House of Representatives that would establish a waiting period before a healthcare bill could be assigned to a third-party collection agency to be recovered as well as limit the amount that a court can award in attorneys’ fees.
A copy of House Bill 515 — can be accessed by clicking here.
Debate over the proposed legislation was “extensive” and “stretched” for hours yesterday, according to a published report, with much of that time taken up by Rep. Bryan Zollinger, who is a lawyer that works for a collection agency and spoke out against the increased regulation that would be created should the bill become law. The vote to approve the bill was 49-20 and now moves to the state Senate for consideration.
During his speech against the bill, Zollinger said “it would impinge on the freedom of medical providers and debt collectors both by violating their property rights and by trying to force smaller cases into small claims court instead of magistrate court, depriving them of the right to counsel and trial by jury,” according to a published report.
Healthcare organizations would be required to wait for a pre-determined period of time before engaging in what the bill defines as “extraordinary collection action,” which includes assigning the debt to a third-party agency. The bill would also cap the legal fees that could be added to an individuals debt at $350 for an uncontested judgment and $750 for a contested judgment.
The bill is another action taken by Frank VanderSloot, a billionaire and considered to be the richest man in the state, who spearheaded the effort to get the law passed as part of his fight against what he deems to be “aggressive” collection efforts by a specific agency in Idaho. VanderSloot is the CEO of a wellness company. Some of his employees were being sued by a collection agency for unpaid medical debts. VanderSloot objected to what he labeled as “aggressive” collection efforts by the agency, and has pledged $1 million to help individuals in Idaho defend themselves against collection lawsuits, especially those filed by the agency in question.
Supporters of the bill acknowledged that the proposed legislation “isn’t perfect,” but was “a step in the right direction,” according to the report.