New York Passes Legislation to Protect Patients with Medical Debt
December 7, 2022
The National MS Society joined advocacy groups across New York in supporting legislation (S.6522A/A.7363A) to protect patients facing steep medical bills that can lead to wage garnishment or liens against their property. Governor Kathy Hochul signed the legislation into law on November 23, 2022.
Nearly half of American adults struggle to afford health care costs. The medical costs associated with living with multiple sclerosis are $65,612 more each year than medical costs for individuals who do not have MS. More than 50,000 New Yorkers have been sued for medical debt over the past five years. S.6522A/A.7363A amends the civil practice law and rules to prohibit health care providers from placing home liens on an individual's primary residence or garnishing wages to collect on medical debt. Previously, hospitals or health care providers had been able to impose and enforce liens on a patient's primary residence to satisfy a judgment in a medical debt lawsuit, leading to housing instability and devastating financial consequences for vulnerable New Yorkers. Stable, affordable, and accessible housing has a significant impact on health outcomes – not only increasing quality of life and promoting independence for people with MS, but also allowing them to remain safe and actively engaged in the community.
The National MS Society applauds the New York state legislature and Governor Hochul for ending this predatory practice and protecting people from unfair penalties.