Case Study: Organizing Patients to Advance New York’s Campaign to End Medical Debt
Like much of the rest of the country, New York has witnessed a historic decline in its uninsurance rate, from 10 percent to 4 percent since the ACA’s enactment. But simultaneously, we have witnessed an increase in consumer complaints related to aggressive medical collection actions. For example, Community Health Advocates, New York’s Independent Consumer Assistance Program reports seeing a 64 percent increase in medical debt cases over the past two years.
The following case study describes the campaign consumer advocates in New York are waging to elevate consumers’ concerns about aggressive medical debt actions and to reform medical debt laws in New York. New York’s medical debt agenda includes a long list of reforms and has a complex legislative history, but to date three major reforms have enacted:
- Cutting the length of time a hospital has to sue a patient from six years to three years;
- Reducing the amount of judgment interest that can be charged when a hospital sues a patient from 9 percent to 2 percent; and
- Closing a loophole in the Surprise Bill law that exempted hospital emergency rooms.
This brief describes how we did it, what we still need to do and the lessons we have learned along the way.