Proposed rules would ban emergency room debt collection

The U.S. Department of Treasury released proposed regulations Monday that would ban debt collection activities in the emergency rooms of non-profit hospitals.

The proposed restriction comes in the wake of a lawsuit by Minnesota's attorney general alleging Fairview Health Systems former contractor, Accretive Health hit up patients in emergency rooms for payment before treatment.

The Treasury Department has proposed adding regulations to a part of the federal health care law to protect patients from abusive collection practices. Already each hospital must have a written policy committing the facility to provide emergency medical care without discriminating against patients who may need financial assistance.

The new proposed rules require that the policy also prohibit debt collection activities in the emergency department or in other hospital locations where collection activities could interfere with treatment.

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