Should hospitals be able to grab your tax refund if they say you owe them money?

A Georgia lawmaker wants to allow many of the state’s hospitals to tap into pending tax refunds to cover unpaid hospital bills.

House bill 81 would allow Georgia hospitals that are owned by public hospital authorities to get outstanding medical debts paid by deducting the money owed from a pending state tax refund. The bill would include authority-owned facilities that are operated by non-profit organizations, which is the case with many hospitals in Georgia.

Rep. Tom McCall, R-Elberton, said it would allow struggling hospitals an avenue to collect money they have not been able to get through billing or collection proceedings. He said he was thinking especially of the state’s small hospitals, many of which are struggling to stay afloat.

Rep. Tom McCall, R-Elberton

Rep. Tom McCall, R-Elberton

McCall said his local hospital suggested the idea and he thought it made sense.

“You know these rural hospitals have got one foot in the grave and the other one fixing to fall in it,” McCall said.

State law authorizes a process that allows several types of government debts, including unpaid traffic fines, to be paid from refunds being processed by the Georgia Department of Revenue.

“It is not going to be the saving grace of all these little hospitals, but it may help,” McCall said.

The Georgia Hospital Association said it had not taken a position on the bill.

Beth Stephens, of the statewide consumer organization Georgia Watch, urged the legislature to be cautious, given the complaints many consumers have about accuracy of health care bills.

“The hospital bills really concern us in terms of the opportunity for error and consumers’ ability and desire to try to negotiate those bills – we wouldn’t want to see that limited in any way,” she said.

McCall said he was working to tweak the bill to make it clear that it wouldn’t apply to bills that were in dispute or care that was provided to indigent patients.

“It’s aimed at those people that just flat won’t pay,” he said.

Reader Comments 0

5 comments
Kathy
Kathy

Obviously, the worker should decide what bills they are paying with their tax refund not the hospitals.

JustinMcGroin
JustinMcGroin

EXPAND MEDICAID, and those hospitals can get paid! The main reason they are in trouble now is that you stupid Goobers, in order to deny president Obama any credit for helping sick people, REFUSED to expand Medicaid as outlined in the Affordable Care Act (and don't tell me that you think the ACA is different from Obamacare, because that would really make you look stupid).


People in blue states are getting Medicaid, and not having to run up gigantic hospital bills, and those states' hospitals are getting paid. But not in good ol' Georgia, a red state! Are you proud of yourselves? Remember, some of your federal taxes are paying for Medicaid in those blue states! So long, suckers!


Since the ACA expansion would let anyone with income up to 138% of the federal poverty level be covered, and 100% paid for by federal funds, it's a no-brainer for the local hospitals.

Queen of Ctown
Queen of Ctown

Very troubling.  I think we all know the "scam" that is healthcare billing.    The uninsured are billed at super premium rates, often many times what health insurers, Medicare and Medicaid pay,  and then are chased into bankruptcy when they can't pay.  And also troubling that they'd allow a quasi-governmental entity to tap into someone's tax refund.

Ychromosome
Ychromosome

Let me get this straight. If someone cuts their withholdings and avoids getting a refund, they can still skip paying the hospital? Sounds like a plan. 

declaisse-walford
declaisse-walford

Avoids getting a refund? Does that even make sense, if it would pay off their bill?