February has been a busy month for Andrea Joy Campbell, the Attorney General of Massachusetts. Yesterday, she announced her third collection-related enforcement action in the last two weeks, this time fining a medical equipment supplier $500,000 and vacating more than $2 million in judgments for a number of violations, including filing lawsuits in a state District Court where 99% of the consumers did not live while also making misleading threats and failing to inform consumers of their legal rights.
A copy of the Assurance of Discontinuance, reached with Regional Home Care, can be accessed by clicking here.
The company, which sells and rents medical equipment like oxygen tanks and CPAP devices, was also accused of improperly collecting money from members of the state’s Medicaid program to pay balances that were either not owed or had already been paid by the program.
“Regional Home Care engaged in illegal practices at the expense of vulnerable consumers across Massachusetts who depend on this medical equipment for their health and livelihood,” said Campbell, in a statement. “As a result of this settlement, thousands of consumers who were harmed by this company’s actions will directly benefit, and our office will continue to protect consumers from predatory practices and scams.”
The company filed 13,000 collection lawsuits in Leominster District Court, despite the fact that 99% of the consumers being sued neither lived in that district nor had their contracts executed there. This helped the company secure default judgments. The lawsuits were for amounts not owed and for balances already paid by MassHealth.
Along with paying the fine and vacating the judgments, the company will not be able to sell or transfer the judgments to anyone else. The company must also start filing lawsuits in the proper judicial district, make at least three attempts to retrieve equipment before filing a collection lawsuit, and not billing MassHealth members for medical equipment.