Crushing medical debt can push consumers and families into poverty and lead to wage garnishment, bankruptcy, or ruined credit.
Effective July 1, 2021 New Mexico’s Patient Debt Collection Practices Act created several new requirements for health care providers, debt buyers, and collection agencies that collect medical debts.
The new requirements include:
- Healthcare facilities and medical debt collectors cannot pursue collection actions (including lawsuits and garnishment) against low-income patients (defined as those earning less than 200% of the federal poverty level ).
- Healthcare facilities should take the following steps before collecting a bill from a patient:
- Check if a patient has health insurance;
- If the patient is uninsured, examine the patient for all available public insurance and any other financial assistance that might cover the bill;
- Help the patient to seek help.
- Hospitals should provide more information on invoices and provide receipts for payments.
For more information:
NM Together for Healthcare, “Governor Signs Medical Debt Protection Into Law” https://nmtogether4health.org/media-press/governor-signs-medical-debt-protections-into-law/
New Mexico Statutes Sections 57-32-1 to 57-32-10 (NMSA 1978), Ch. 57, s. 32 NMSA 1978, https://nmonesource.com/nmos/nmsa/en/item/4423/index.do#!b/a32
Senate Bill 71 – Patient Debt Collection Protection Act https://www.nmlegis.gov/Legislation/Legislation?Chamber=S&LegType=B&LegNo=71&year=21