- Although millions of people are receiving stimulus payments from the federal government due to the pandemic-induced recession, according to The Wall Street Journal, many could lose it to medical collections, according to CNN.
- The $2.2 trillion congressional coronavirus relief plan passed in March did not shield the stimulus payments from certain private debt collectors, according to CNN.
- Given the heightened scrutiny of healthcare collections activity, revenue cycle leaders need to understand if their business partners are using this tactic to collect debt for their hospitals and health systems.
CNN reported: “Millions of people received their stimulus payments from the federal government [the week of April 13], but some are at risk of immediately losing the money if they owe credit card, medical, or private student loan debts.”
“A loophole in the law could mean some of those who are most in need of the emergency aid don’t get the money,” according to CNN. “About 33% of people in the United States have debt in collections and could be impacted, according to the National Consumer Law Center. The $2.2 trillion congressional coronavirus relief plan passed in March did not shield the stimulus payments from certain private debt collectors, though it specifically protected the money from being taken to cover unpaid taxes or federal student loan payments.”
Given the heightened scrutiny of healthcare collections activity, revenue cycle leaders need to understand if their business partners are using this tactic. If business partners are using this tactic, hospitals and health systems need to make sure that it is aligned with the organization’s mission in the current environment, their medical accounts resolution practices and be prepared to take questions about it from the media.
The WSJ reported on April 16 that another 5.2 million Americans filed for unemployment the previous week, which brings the total over the past month to 22 million Americans out of work as a result of COVID-19.
In the face of a pandemic-driven recession, beyond reviewing the actions business partners may take on their behalf, providers should also increase financial counseling resources and evaluate whether their financial assistance policies are aligned with community needs and the hospital’s financial means.
HFMA also offers Best Practices for Resolution of Medical Accounts.