February 16, 2021
When people go to the hospital, they expect care that will help improve their lives. Yet that care does not always extend to the way hospitals handle medical bills.
In the state of Maryland, hospitals are allowed to sue patients over outstanding medical bills. And most of them do. Medical debt lawsuits can prevent low-income households from being able to afford their basic needs, like housing and food. This in turn can harm health outcomes for the entire household.
Medical debt lawsuits can also exacerbate health inequities as people with low incomes and people of color are more likely to have worse health outcomes than their counterparts. More than one in five Marylanders of color struggle with medical debt in collections.
The Medical Debt Protection Act (HB 565 / SB 514) would prohibit hospitals from suing patients for medical debts under $1,000 and protect patients from harmful practices, like wage garnishment and property liens. It also requires hospitals to develop repayment plans with eligible patients.
Patients need the accountability, transparency and patient-centered protections set forth in this bill. Tell your state legislators to support the Medical Debt Protection Act. You can find your legislators’ contact information at mdelect.net.