Healthcare Technology Featured Article

June 29, 2012

Al Franken Now in the Role of Everyman, Dissing Debt Collectors

Thanks to someone who used to play a very insecure man with a trembling lip on TV, you may no longer be hounded in the emergency room to pay your past medical bills before you receive treatment.

Yes, Al Franken used to play Stuart Smiley, who desperately wanted everyone to like him, on Saturday Night Live. But now he’s trying to do something that would get him all the approval and acceptance he ever wanted.

According to InsideARM, as reported in a press release, U.S. Senator Al Franken introduced two bills this week which added new rules for medical debt collection companies, one, for the protection of electronic information belonging to patients, and the second, The End Debt Collector Abuse Act of 2012 (EDCAA), which states, simply, that “Debt collectors have approached the indebted in emergency rooms, which is considered a complete invasion of personal privacy.”

In fact, it’s gotten so egregious, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson in May announced a lawsuit against one of the most aggressive debt collectors, Accretive, in the state.

EDCAA, to be folded into The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, would make it illegal for debt collectors to contact consumers while in emergency rooms. The use of protected health information is also against the law. Patients can sue debt collectors if they break the law, giving debt collectors more of a reason to follow the rules.

For John Monderine, President and CEO of debt collection agency, Rapid Recovery Solution, Inc., it’s a personal thing.  “Medical debts shouldn’t be collected when people are in the hospital. My mother had to deal with the same thing [while she was in the hospital],” he said in the press release.

Writing at the Huffington Post, Jeffrey Young says that hospital debt collection is the very essence of a sick healthcare system.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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