New consumer protections for low-income patients

Legal Aid Housing/Consumer Law Unit senior attorney Louise Carwell

Legal Aid Housing/Consumer Law Unit senior attorney Louise Carwell

Legal Aid will monitor hospital compliance with two new bills signed into law yesterday by Gov. Martin O’Malley, senior attorney for consumer law Louise Carwell (left) told the Baltimore Sun.  The new standards tell hospitals who is eligible for free and reduced-price care and require them to provide information about financial assistance to all patients.

Even with the stricter rules, it will be up to consumers to speak up for themselves, Carwell said. “It will have to be enforced and often by the consumer, who will have to bring it into the discussion of a debt collection issue,” she said in the front-page article.  “Things are going to slip by unless the patient is heard. We will be vigilant in how the new law is implemented.”

Legislators passed the bills in response to a Sun series that documented how some nonprofit hospitals aggressively pursued collection of unpaid bills from poor patients, even though those debts are supposed to be covered by the rates they charge.

To read the entire article, click here.

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