Friday, May 13, 2022

Senator Rivera’s First Bill in Medical Debt Package Passes the State Senate



Senator Rivera’s First Bill in Medical Debt Package Passes the State Senate

Senator Rivera sponsors two other medical debt-related bills, which if passed, will protect New York patients and restrict healthcare costs
On Tuesday, May 10, State Senator Gustavo Rivera’s bill (S.6522A) to stop health care providers from putting liens on patients’ homes and garnishing their wages to collect medical debt passed the State Senate. The bill is on its way to Governor Hochul’s desk for her signature after passing the Assembly last March.  
This bill will prohibit health care providers from imposing and enforcing liens on a patient's primary residence as well as garnishing wages to satisfy a judgment in a medical debt lawsuit.

According to a 2021 report released by the Community Services Society, over 50,000 New York patients were sued for medical debt by non-profit hospitals in the past five years, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. These cases do not stabilize a hospital's finances, but instead, have devastating financial consequences for patients, including increasing housing instability.

“New Yorkers should not fear losing their homes or livelihood as a result of seeking the medical care they need. This bill will protect New Yorkers from having liens placed on their homes or their wages garnished in an effort to collect medical debt,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “We must work together to eradicate medical debt from our State and this is an important first step. I urge Governor Hochul to sign this bill into law as soon as possible.”

Senator Rivera understands that medical debt is a longstanding issue that needs to be resolved and that it is a critical component in his fight to transform our for-profit healthcare system. He is also the sponsor of two bills that would further protect patients from medical debt collection and restrict healthcare costs during and after the pandemic. These are:  

S2521C: Regulates how medical providers bill patients for facilities fees
S7625: Requires hospitals to use a uniform financial assistance policy (passed the Senate Health Committee on May 11)

Watch Senator Rivera's floor remarks here.

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