Idaho Governor Brad Little signed the Idaho Patient Act into law yesterday, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.
The bill, which passed 49-20 in the state House and 32-1 in the Senate, attempts to crack down on what it deems to be “aggressive” collection of medical debts by establishing prohibitions on how much can be charged in legal fees during collection lawsuits and creating a waiting period before a healthcare facility can place an unpaid debt with a collection agency.
The bill is the brainchild of Frank VanderSloot, a billionaire who has been staunchly advocating for more protections for Idahoans from medical debt collectors. VanderSloot, considered to be the richest man in the state, has targeted what he deems to be “aggressive” collection efforts by a specific agency in Idaho. VanderSloot is the CEO of a wellness company and some of his employees were being sued by a collection agency for unpaid medical debts. VanderSloot has pledged $1 million to help individuals in Idaho defend themselves against collection lawsuits, especially those filed by the agency in question.
“I am thrilled that these bad actors are going to be stopped from their egregious actions of turning medical debts into attorney bills,” VanderSloot said, according to a published report. “My only regret is that the law doesn’t go into effect until January 1. I fear that these bad actors will step up their unethical activities until they are forced to stop.”
The bill caps the legal fees that can be added to an individuals debt at $350 for an uncontested judgment and $750 for a contested judgment while also creating a waiting period before a healthcare facility can send a bill to a collections agency. Healthcare facilities must wait at least 90 days after a patient receives treatment before placing the account with a third-party agency.