March 2, 2022
The Public Justice Center joins the End Medical Debt Maryland coalition in advocating for HB 694/SB 944, which would require the Health Services Cost Review Commission, the Maryland Office of the Comptroller, and the Maryland Department of Human Services to identify low-income patients who should have received free care from Maryland hospitals in 2017 and 2018 and have the hospitals refund them.
In 2021, HSCRC released a study reporting that Maryland’s hospitals collected roughly $60 million in 2017 and then again in 2018 ($120 million total) from patients who were eligible for free care and should not have been charged. For low-income patients, medical debt collection threatens financial security by taking money that enters the household away from paying for basic family needs, including food, medication, childcare and housing. It can also harm the overall health of patients and their families by placing an emotional and physical burden on them. HB 694/SB 944 would require hospitals and state agencies to work collaboratively to 1) identify these patients, 2) notify them that they overpaid and how to request a refund, and 3) require the hospitals to reimburse them. HB 694/SB 944 simply seeks to restore low-income hospital patients to where they were before they were wrongfully billed.
HB 694 is being heard in the House Health & Government Operations Committee TODAY. Urge your legislators to pass the bill to make low-income patients, who should have received free care, whole. Find your legislators here.