OR Nonprofit Hospitals Fail to Provide Financial Aid to Low-Income Patients
Monday, March 27, 2023
Oregon's nonprofit hospitals are not doing enough to provide assistance on medical bills for low-income patients, but a bill in Salem aims to change it.
Nonprofit hospitals are required by federal law to alleviate medical costs for patients who cannot afford them.
Matt Swanson, political strategist for the Service Employees International Union Oregon State Council, said investigations have found the institutions are not going far enough to help.
"People really aren't getting the assistance they need," Swanson explained. "Instead, they're getting every last dollar really wrung out of them in order to satisfy a bill that they really can't pay, and it's risking other things in their life, like housing and food and the ability to get over their health issue."
House Bill 3320 is designed to ensure people get the financial assistance they need and hospitals are transparent about their assistance practices. In written testimony on the bill, the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems said it agrees with parts of the legislation but wants lawmakers to keep in mind insurers are part of the cost picture as well.
Swanson added it is important for people who cannot afford medical bills to know they have assistance available.
"The purpose of this bill is to really tighten up what compliance looks like," Swanson emphasized. "And ensure that everyone gets screened before they are sent a bill, so that the hospital is giving a hand to folks who need the help, instead of letting them get lost in systems that are often confusing and overwhelming at a time when they're really struggling."
The bill received a public hearing last week and is scheduled for a work session Wednesday.
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