MD bill would set hospital pricing standards

A new bill filed in the Maryland General Assembly would set a minimum standard for hospitals in the state when providing free or reduced-price care, as well barring hospitals from filing liens on patients' primary residences.

The bill would require hospitals to provide free care to patients whose incomes are at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level--which is now about $33,000 for a family of four--and make sure that such families knew about the availability of help. It would also ensure that hospitals give state regulators details about oversight of contracts with collections agencies and attorneys.

The bill follows the publication of an article in the Baltimore Sun critiquing hospital collection efforts. It noted that Maryland hospitals filed more than 132,000 lawsuits against patients from 2003 to 2008, collected more than $100 million on judgments and imposed more than 8,000 property liens.

To learn more about the bill:
- read this Baltimore Sun piece

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