Flexibility and Clarification to the Idaho Patient Act

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On March 1, 2021, Idaho Governor Brad Little signed House Bill No. 42, giving healthcare providers additional time to comply with the requirements imposed by the controversial Idaho Patient Act that was signed into law March 16, 2020, and went into effect January 1, 2021.

The Idaho Patient Act, Idaho Code Section 48-301 et seq., requires healthcare providers to satisfy certain requirements before they engage in “extraordinary collection actions.” For purposes of the Act, an extraordinary collection action includes (1) selling, transferring, or assigning the patient’s debt to a third-party prior to 60 days from the patient’s receipt of the final statement; (2) reporting adverse information about the patient to a consumer reporting agency; or (3) commencing any judicial or legal action, including placing a lien, attaching or seizing a bank account or personal property, initiating a civil action, or garnishing wages.

To engage in an extraordinary collection action, healthcare providers must first:

  1. Submit charges to the patient or the patient’s insurance within 45 days of when goods or services were provided (or within 90 days under the relaxed timelines of I.C. § 48-306).
  2. Provide the patient with a consolidated summary of services within 60 days of when goods or services were provided (or within 180 days under the relaxed timelines of I.C. § 48-306).
  3. Provide the patient with a final statement.
  4. Wait at least 60 days after the patient receives the final statement before charging interest.
  5. Wait at least 90 days after the patient receives the final statement before engaging in “extraordinary collection actions.”

You can read more about these requirements in our previous article, The Idaho Patient Act and Its Impact on Medical Debt Collections.

As initially drafted, the Act required healthcare providers to begin satisfying the above requirements prior to the effective date of the Act in order to preserve their right to pursue extraordinary collection actions after January 1, 2021. The new legislation now clarifies that healthcare providers may pursue extraordinary collection actions against patients for goods and services that were provided before July 1, 2021, even if the healthcare provider did not adhere to the timeframes required under the Act (e.g., submitting charges to insurance within 45 days; providing consolidated summary of services within 60 days; etc.). However, healthcare providers must still satisfy all statutory requirements before proceeding with an extraordinary collection action. Finally, any healthcare provider that pursues an extraordinary collection action in reliance upon this newly enacted flexibility will not be able to recover costs, expenses, or fees, including attorneys’ fees.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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