MD officials recommend required charity care for hospitals

3 strategies to improve hospital cost containment, cash flow

A state agency responsible for setting hospital rates has suggested that Maryland law be changed to require hospitals to expand charity care levels and give financial-assistance information to every patient.

In a new report, the Health Services Cost Review Commission recommended several changes to the state's existing rate-setting system, which was established to expand access to hospital care for poor patients. They want hospitals to be required to provide free care to any state resident whose incomes are less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

The report also recommends that hospitals be required to provide written notice of the availability of financial aid to every patient it serves. It also recommended that hospitals and their collection agencies be barred from adding interest or penalties to bills for uninsured patients, at least for a set period, before court judgments are entered against them.

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