The Nevada State Assembly held a hearing last week to address a bill that has already passed the state Senate and seeks to require a collection agency notify an individual before taking any action to collect on a medical debt, while also establishing a floor for the minimum amount of debt that qualifies for filing a civil action to collect on an unpaid medical debt.
The provisions of Nevada’s SB248 mirror a number of other bills that have been introduced in state legislatures across the country that are aimed at restricting how medical debts are collected. 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 legislation in Maryland has been sent to Gov. Larry Hogan and is awaiting his signature to become law. The legislation in New Mexico has been signed into law and will go into effect on July 1.
The Nevada bill passed in the state Senate earlier this month by a vote of 19 to two. The 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.