Monday, May 23, 2022


Pennsylvania tries to land a regional hydrogen hub, a new study confirms college grads are twice as likely to get good jobs, and a U.S. military plane flies 35 tons of baby formula from Germany to Indianapolis.


Operation Fly Formula's first shipment arrives, worries of global food shortages grow, President Biden is concerned about a monkeypox outbreak, and a poll says Americans support the Title 42 border policy.


From off-Broadway to West Virginia: the stories of the deadly Upper Big Branch mine explosion, baby formula is on its way back to grocery shelves, and federal funds will combat consolidation in meatpacking.

Ore. Legislation Addresses Debt for Patients Who Can't Afford Medical Bills


Friday, March 22, 2019   

SALEM, Ore. – A measure in the Oregon Legislature aims to make sure hospitals are providing financial help to people who can't afford their medical bills.

House Bill 3076 seeks to change the way nonprofit hospitals handle charity care, which has dropped off by 50 percent since 2010, according to an analysis of Oregon Health Authority data.

Even hospital staff has struggled to get help with medical bills. Hollie Murphy, a certified nursing assistant at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene, was brought to collections and ultimately had to declare bankruptcy because of debt from a hysterectomy in 2013.

"It's like they didn't care that you had a family to support and that you needed to put food on the table and you still needed to pay rent to have a roof over your head, that type of a thing,” says Murphy. “So it just made it very stressful."

HB 3076 would require nonprofit hospitals to cover services in full for families with household incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty line and provide discounts on a sliding scale for families with incomes up to 600 percent of the federal poverty line. The bill is scheduled to receive a hearing next week.

Felisa Hagins, political director with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 49, says 60 percent of surveyed staff at Sacred Heart at Eugene owed medical debt to their employer when employees decided to organize in 2016.

She also notes that medical debt is the number one cause of bankruptcy in the country.

Hagins says nonprofit hospitals should consider how to effectively provide care to everyone who comes through their doors and HB 3076 would outline how they can do that.

"What is a nonprofit health system?” asks Hagins. “What are nonprofit hospitals? How do you maintain your nonprofit status, still meet your mission and provide care and community benefit for the communities you serve?"

There are 58 nonprofit hospitals in Oregon.

The bill would put in place more preventive measures for predatory debt collection and ensure that debt is not passed on to a patient's spouse or children. It also would establish a minimum level for community benefit spending for each hospital.

The hospital industry says a floor isn't necessary because it is committed to this type of spending. But Hagins says this process needs to be more transparent so that hospitals can be held accountable.

get more stories like this via email

A 2017 study in The Lancet found 20% of people who are pregnant must travel more than 43 miles to get access to an abortion. (Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

Around 17% of bachelor's degrees awarded to Black students nationwide come from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and research shows HBCUs boost economic mobility and generational wealth.(Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

One of North Carolina's oldest Historically Black Colleges and Universities is finding new ways to help students stay enrolled and graduate. Recent …

Social Issues

A new survey finds 8 in 10 Kentucky parents say afterschool programs could help their child combat social and mental-health struggles by reducing unpr…


A technology that once existed only in science fiction soon could emerge as a viable solution to climate change. The city of Flagstaff has added …


Minnesota has more than 10,000 brownfield sites, which are abandoned or idled properties in need of contamination removal. State officials will soon …

Georgetown researchers found that Black American women are the most likely to have to turn to student loans for college, and hold the most student loan debt, compared with their peers. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

By age 35, workers with a bachelor's degree or higher are about twice as likely as workers with just a high school diploma to have a good job - one …


The mayor of Huntington, where more than 200 homes were recently damaged by severe flooding, said now is the state's "one chance" to prevent other …

Social Issues

Alzheimer's disease is one of the leading causes of death in North Dakota, prompting state officials to launch an online dashboard, where the public …


Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021