A bill has been introduced in the Nevada Senate that would require collection agencies to notify consumers at least two months before attempting to collect on a debt, while also prohibiting filing a collection lawsuit to recover unpaid medical debts if the balance is less than $10,000.
The bill, SB248, was introduced this week by state Sen. Marilyn Dondero. It is the latest in a series of laws that have been introduced in state legislatures across the country that are aimed at restricting the collection of medical debts. Bills have been introduced in Oklahoma, Maryland, Ohio, Colorado, and New Mexico that take different attacks at medical debt collection. At the same time, a bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives that aims to amend the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act with respect to how medical debts are collected.
The Nevada bill would require collection agencies to provide written notifications to consumers at least 60 days before “taking any action to collect a medical debt.” The notification would have to include:
- The name of the medical facility, provider of healthcare or provider of emergency medical services that provided the goods or services for which the medical debt is owed;
- The date on which those goods or services were provided;
- Whether a third party has been billed for those goods or services and the current status of the bill;
- Whether the medical facility, provider of health care or provider of emergency medical services offers a program of financial assistance for medical debtors
Collectors would also be prohibited from commencing a civil action to collect a medical debt if the amount of the debt — excluding interest, late fees, collection costs, attorney’s fees, and other fees and costs — is less than $10,000, which is the state threshold on filing suits in small claims court.
Collectors would also be barred from charging or collecting a fee of more than 5% of the amount of the medical debt, excluding the same items listed above.