A pair of bills were introduced in the Maine legislature yesterday that both tackle the topic of medical debt. One would limit how medical debt credit cards are promoted and used and the other would give consumers the chance to buy their medical debts from a provider before they are sold to someone else.
Medical Debt Credit Cards: LD 2174 was introduced by state Sen. Troy Jackson, a Democrat who is president of the state Senate.
- The bill would prohibit healthcare providers from facilitating medical debt credit card contracts with consumers either in the provider’s office or some other treatment setting. A healthcare provider is defined in the bill as a physician, healthcare practitioner, hospital, clinic, clinical laboratory, healthcare facility or other person or facility that provides health care services and is licensed or registered by the State.
- Along with banning consumers from filling out medical debt credit card applications in a healthcare provider’s office, the bill also would prohibit providers from offering or arranging medical debt credit cards for consumers that contain deferred interest provisions.
- And before accepting payment from a consumer using a medical debt credit card, providers must screen the consumer to see if he or she is eligible for any charity care programs.
- Finally, the bill would subject creditors accepting payments from medical debt credit cards to Maine’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Medical Debt Buying Bill: LD 2115 was introduced by state Sen. Mike Penobscot, also a Democrat.
- Under the bill, healthcare providers — which are not defined in the bill — would be prohibited from assigning, selling, or otherwise transferring a debt for healthcare services — also undefined — to a debt collector for less than the total amount of the debt unless the provider has offered the consumer the opportunity to acquire the debt at the same reduced amount as the debt collector.
- Collectors would also be prohibited from collecting or attempting to collect on debts for medical expenses — undefined — against a consumer unless the collector has acquired the debt from a healthcare provider has complied with the previous provision.