Federal agencies, including the CFPB, are considering the regulations and closed public comments this week.
09/14/2023 11:50 A.M.
2.5 minute read
California’s Attorney General Rob Bonta doubled down on support for regulations of medical payment products in a letter to federal agencies this week.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, closed a comment period on the regulation of medical payment products Sept. 11.
The request for information (RFI) focused on the prevalence of medical payment products, patient experiences and the impact of incentives for providers to offer the products.
Bonta was a speaker at a CFPB hearing on medical billing and collections in July where the RFI was discussed.
To outline his support, Bonta submitted a letter to the federal agencies considering regulation of the products, “which are increasingly being used by patients across the country and too often lack appropriate safeguards,” according to a news release from his office.
He noted in the letter that California has passed laws to help ensure that patients understand the terms of medical payment products, which may assist future federal rulemaking.
“The mounting cost of medical care in our nation is a crisis—one that disproportionately affects our most vulnerable communities,” Bonta said. “It’s no wonder that more and more patients are having to turn to products like medical credit cards to pay for their health care bills.”
Recommendations in the letter include:
- Designating medical credit card debt as medical debt, not consumer debt, thus ensuring users receive statutory protections.
- Ensuring providers properly screen patients for financial aid and charity care before they are offered a medical payment product.
- Limiting enrollment in medical payment products in provider offices (when patients are often drowsy, in pain, or distressed).
- Providing patients with written notice of financial assistance and potential eligibility for charity care.
- Making reasonable efforts to notify patients whether insurance fully or partially covers their medical expenses.
- Reducing cost-sharing responsibilities to reduce patient need for medical payment products.
ACA International filed comments (PDF) in response to the RFI noting how the CFPB’s efforts in this area lack meaningful conversations with the health care and debt collection industries.
“The CFPB has not engaged in meaningful conversations with stakeholders in the health care or debt collection markets beyond the targeted collection of anecdotal information from select groups,” said ACA CEO Scott Purcell in the comments. “A good example of this is the recent July 11, 2023, CFPB hearing on medical billing and collections, where this RFI was discussed. The hearing included no medical providers or hospitals, and instead included only a sounding board of government employees and consumer advocacy groups.”
As an overarching matter, ACA does not believe the CFPB should take any actions related to limiting options for health care providers without robust and data-driven research proving that they will not harm the ability to access medical services or the ability to offer and be compensated for medical care provided.