House Bill 425 — Medical billing practices

House Bill 425 — Medical billing practices

by
Parrish Miller
February 17, 2020
Parrish Miller
February 17, 2020

Bill description: HB 425 regulates and limits the use of "extraordinary collection actions" to collect on medical bills.

Rating: -9

Does it give government any new, additional, or expanded power to prohibit, restrict, or regulate activities in the free market? Conversely, does it eliminate or reduce government intervention in the market?

HB 425 creates a new chapter of Idaho Code defining, regulating, and limiting the use of "extraordinary collection actions" to collect on overdue medical bills. The new language also requires that health care providers provide each patient with a "consolidated summary of services" within 60 days of providing goods or services.

HB 425 requires that health care providers wait 60 days after the receipt of the final statement before charging a patient any interest on the amount owed. It also requires that the health care provider wait at least 180 days after the receipt of the final statement and final resolution of all internal reviews and appeals before taking any "extraordinary collection action" to obtain payment.

(-1)

Does it increase barriers to entry into the market? Examples include occupational licensure, the minimum wage, and restrictions on home businesses. Conversely, does it remove barriers to entry into the market?

HB 425 is likely to have an especially severe impact on new providers and independent practitioners. From the additional paperwork imposed to requiring providers to wait six months to outsource payment collection, these new mandates impose a significant regulatory burden on health care providers.

(-1)

Does it violate the principle of equal protection under the law? Examples include laws which discriminate or differentiate based on age, gender, or religion or which apply laws, regulations, rules, or penalties differently based on such characteristics. Conversely, does it restore or protect the principle of equal protection under the law?

HB 425 sets strict limits on the fees and costs providers may be awarded for their efforts to collect payment from a delinquent patient and applies those limits "notwithstanding any provision of law or agreement to the contrary." This provision effectively disallows the enforcement of contracts that call for penalties for nonpayment.

(-1)

HB 425 limits the fees and costs providers may be awarded for their efforts to collect payment from a delinquent patient. But it explicitly does not apply those limits (or indeed, any limits) on patients should they seek damages from a provider who is trying to collect payment. In addition to being constitutionally dubious, this inequality seems calculated to discourage providers from ever engaging in "extraordinary collection action" because of the uncapped potential losses faced should a delinquent patient prevail in court.

(-1)

HB 425 creates onerous regulations uniquely limiting the ability of health care providers to collect on overdue medical bills. These regulations and limitations are not imposed on individuals or businesses engaging in debt collection generally; rather they specifically target one type of service provider.

(-1)

Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?

HB 425 violates freedom of speech by forbidding a business from reporting a payment delinquency to a consumer reporting agency for a minimum of 180 days.

(-1)

A debt owed to a business is an asset and a business has an inherent property right in that asset. HB 425 violates property rights by disallowing the sale of such an asset for a minimum of 180 days.

(-1)

HB 425 denies health care providers access to normal legal remedies such as the courts or a jury trial until at least 180 days. Denying such access violates a provider’s fundamental and constitutional right.

(-1)

In addition to the many problems described above, there are a number of other potential constitutional conflicts raised by HB 425 regarding separation of powers, due process, impairment of contract, the right to petition, and equal protection.

(-1)

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