A non-profit investigative journalism organization that has had its sights set on “aggressive” medical collections for more than a year has published another report, this time detailing instances where hospitals are still enforcing judgments against individuals during the coronavirus pandemic.
The report details the plight of two individuals, one of whom had been profiled already in another publication, and how judgments had been entered against them and their bank accounts and wages garnished during the COVID-19 crisis.
“In a moment when hospitals nationwide are being heralded for their role at the front lines of fighting the pandemic, some Americans continue to experience a less favorable side of hospital operations: aggressive collection for unpaid medical bills, even at a time when many of the debtors are seeing their income plunge,” the report says, going on to cite a small number of hospitals that may still have open judgments against individuals.
One hospital noted in the report that some of the judgments were renewed in January, well before the coronavirus pandemic started raging across the country. The hospital spokeswoman said that if people have lost their jobs or have other financial issues, the hospital will stop trying to collect and will work with those people. Another hospital said it is placing a hold on garnishments that went into effect in February and March. Even as some states have taken action to limit or prohibit collection activities, there are still “several dozen states where medical debt collection can still carry forward, with or without the ability to seize stimulus checks in the process,” according to the report.
Last year, hospitals in Virginia, Oklahoma, New York, Tennessee, and Maryland were all accused of being too aggressive with their collection efforts. Many hospitals stopped filing collection lawsuits and enforcing judgments as a result of the publicity.