Legislature passes Jinkins’ Consumer Protection Bill

The House convenes on April 14, 2015, the 93rd Legislative Day. Legislative Support ServicesOLYMPIA –Today, the legislature passed a bill reforming our state’s medical liens system, House Bill 1503. The bill, prime sponsored by Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma that will protect consumers.

“For those suffering from traumatic injuries, time in the hospital can be incredibly costly,” said Jinkins. “It’s wrong that unbeknownst to patients, years after they have paid their medical bills, they can still have a huge black mark on their credit. Consumers deserve a fair and transparent system.”

HB 1503 makes significant changes to our state’s medical lien laws. Currently, when a patient receives emergency treatment, a medical lien (a way to secure payment of debt) can be placed on that patient. Sometimes, hospitals place an immediate lien against a patient’s property without informing them and corrupt collection agencies aggressively pursue consumers who have these medical liens placed on them. Because of flaws in the law, patients aren’t aware they have a medical lien out against them. The problem doesn’t stop there. Even for patients who are aware and have paid their liens, some hospitals and health clinics fail to lift the liens in a timely fashion, or at all.

“Washingtonians deserve better,” said Jinkins. “Medical emergencies are stressful enough without predators making the situation worse. HB 1503 is a common-sense bill that will help restore balance in the system again – ensuring that patients have notice of a medical lien being placed and that liens are lifted in a timely fashion when the bill is paid.”

HB 1503 will go into effect 90 days after the legislative session concludes.