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Medical Debt is Personal Debt – Addressing a Recent Misleading Argument in the Fight Against Improper Debt Collection

For many years we have helped people buy, sell, and refinance real estate, defend against foreclosure, obtain a fresh start through bankruptcy, and fight improper debt collection. As part of this last practice area, we have litigated against several health care providers, debt collectors, and lawyers who seek to illegally back bill or “balance bill” patients for workers’ comp-related medical treatment. These entities have made some ridiculous arguments as to why they should not be liable for illegally seeking to collect a debt—from someone they know does not owe any money—even though there are state and federal laws that prohibits them from doing that. (See Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Act, Florida’s Consumer Collection Practices Act, and the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.)

One of the more recent overly-aggressive and misleading arguments being made is that medical debt is not personal debt. The claim is that it’s business/commercial debt. And since the debt collection practices acts only apply to personal debt, health care providers and their debt collectors argue that they can illegally seek money from injured workers, with impunity. I won’t try to articulate the argument further. It is completely misleading. (Actually, it’s B.S.)

Here’s a copy of a recent (and successful) response we filed on this issue: 2021-02-22 Response to Motion to Dismiss. And here’s a copy of my outline from the hearing on the health care provider’s motion to dismiss our lawsuit: 2021-03-04 ER’s Hearing Notes on MTD. After losing their motion to dismiss, this particular health care provider and their lawyers rolled over and agreed to have judgment entered against the provider: 2021-04-24 Agreed Final Judgment. We later settled the outstanding fees and costs owed.

I post this to share the good news but also because I am concerned that some health care providers, debt collectors, and lawyers will continue to push misleading arguments as part of a business model that includes seeking money from people who do not owe. They may even prevail on this one day by convincing someone who does not take the time to carefully study the law and the misleading cases and arguments being presented. Please spread the word.

 

If you or anyone you know needs help buying, selling, or refinancing real estate, defending against foreclosure, obtaining a fresh start through bankruptcy, or fighting improper debt collection, please contact us. Let the Law Offices of Evan M. Rosen serve you!

 

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