By Bob Katzen
The Revenue Committee held a hearing on a bill that would direct the Department of Public Health to adopt regulations prohibiting hospital and community health centers from seeking an execution against the personal residence or motor vehicle of a patient in order to collect money on unpaid bills. An execution is an order signed by the court to the sheriff telling the sheriff to seize a debtor’s property, sell it and deliver the money received to the creditor in order to satisfy the debt. A creditor can seek an execution only after the case has gone to court and a judgment has been granted in favor of the creditor and against the debtor.
“I filed this legislation in response to unscrupulous debt collection tactics by some greedy hospitals that include placing executions on patient’s homes,” said Sen. Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford), the sponsor of the proposal. “No patient, particularly those facing debilitating and life-threatening medical conditions which leave them unable to work, should be worried about an execution being placed on their home. Hospitals in Massachusetts generate hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue and have stockpiled over a billion dollars in offshore accounts, all the while operating under the auspices of a nonprofit enterprise. It is about time we start making them act like one.“