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A01753 Summary:

BILL NOA01753
 
SAME ASSAME AS S02541
 
SPONSORGottfried
 
COSPNSREnglebright, Seawright, Gallagher
 
MLTSPNSR
 
Add §2828, Pub Health L; add Art 10-B §§286 - 287, D & C L; amd §5004, CPLR; add §§3244 & 4331, Ins L
 
Provides extensions for certain medical debt and insurance premiums related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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A01753 Actions:

BILL NOA01753
 
01/11/2021referred to judiciary
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A01753 Memo:

NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION
submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
 
BILL NUMBER: A1753
 
SPONSOR: Gottfried
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public health law, the debtor and creditor law, the civil practice law and rules and the insurance law, in relation to COVID-19 pandemic medical debt requirements   PURPOSE: To protect patients from financial hardship due to medical debt during the COVID-19 state of emergency.   SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 would add Section 2828 to the public health law to suspend collection actions by hospitals or healthcare professionals and stop interest froth accruing on debt for which collection actions are halted. It creates notice requirements for hospitals and.healthcare profes- sionals for when normal debt obligations become active again. It also prohibits hospitals and healthcare professionals from collection actions against uninsured patients being evaluated or treated for COVID-19 with- out a sworn affidavit that the provider has submitted a claim to the federal Health Resources & Services Administration for that care and been denied. Violations would result in a private right of action. New York's nonprofit hospitals have continued to sue patients through the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent search on the E-Courts public database found that the nonprofit hospitals had brought 152 lawsuits against patients in the month of March 2020, well after the pandemic had spread. Under the current New York State of Emergency, patients are unable to go to court to defend themselves. In addition, patients and consumer advocates report that hospital collection offices are closed and unresponsive to phone calls trying to resolve medical bills before t hey go to court. Section 2 adds a new Article 12 to the debtor and creditor law to suspend collection actions regarding medical debt by all medical debt buyers or collectors and enact the same rules for medical debt buyers created for hospitals and healthcare professionals. Section 3 would amend Section 5004 of the civil practice law and rules to limit interest accruals on medical debt actions taken by hospitals to the United States Treasury bill rate. It would ensure no interest accrues on medical debt judgement during the New York State Disaster Emergency Order related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under current law, New York's nonprofit hospitals are able to charge 9 percent interest on court judgments pursued against their patients. Sections 4 and 5 add new Sections 3244 and 4331 to the Insurance Law in order to extend grace periods for premium payments to 60 days after the State Emergency related to COVID-19 ends or the contracted grace period, whichever is later for those who can demonstrate financial hardship due to COVID-19. It would also bar insurers from charging late fees or reporting policyholders or contract holders to credit agencies or debt collection agencies and require insurers to provide information about alternative coverage options and consumer assistance programs. Insurers would be required to accept an attestation from policyholders or contract holders of their financial hardship. Section 6 sets forth an effective date.   JUSTIFICATION: This legislation provides relief to New Yorkers who are uninsured, at risk of becoming uninsured because of an inability to pay health insur- ance premiums or are at risk of having collection actions taken against them due to medical debt. It encodes several of the State's emergency Administrative actions into legislation that can provide more comprehen- sive protection for a longer, defined time period and give providers and patients more ability to anticipate their obligations over the course of the emergency. New Yorkers are facing severe financial hardship because of the pandem- ic, which is impacting their ability to maintain health coverage or pay for health care. By the end of March, 34 percent of households in New York City had reported job loss as a result of the COVID-19 emergency. (See "Job loss in NYC disproportionately impacts Hispanics and lower income city residents", CUNY New York City COVID-19 Survey Week 2, Week 2 - CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy Job loss is not affecting all New Yorkers equally - 41 percent of households whose members identified as Hispanic reported job loss. This bill would enact several measures to protect patients from collection actions taken by providers or medical debt buyers for the duration of the emergency. Patients' ability to plan ahead for care, respond to medical bill issues such as mistakes, or respond to collection actions is highly compromised by the pandemic. Over 40,000 patients have been sued by hospitals in the past five years for medical debt. Hospitals continued to file lawsuits against patients during the emergency - a brief review of 11 hospitals uncovered 122 lawsuits filed against patients between the state of emergency declaration on March 7 and March 22 when the courts stopped accepting non-emergency filings. For now, the courts have not announced a date at which new filings might be allowed but have begun creating processes to file documents virtually and allowing virtual appearances. Patients need protections from medical debt collection actions for the duration of the Emergency, even if the courts eventually develop processes to handle such cases virtually. The bill would bar new medical debt lawsuits from being filed until the Emergency ends as well as other collection actions, such as placing liens. The bill will also prevent unaffordable medical bills by requir- ing hospitals file claims with the Health Resources & Service Adminis- tration's relief funds before billing uninsured patients. This ensures that patients benefit from the relief funds meant to help hospitals manage COVID-19 costs. The bill would also reduce the statutory rate of interest that can be pursued by a nonprofit hospital when it sues its patients for medical debt. A recent study by the Community Service Society identified over 30,000 lawsuits brought by nonprofit hospitals against New York patients. (Community Service Society, "Discharged into Debt: New York's Nonprofit Hospitals are Suing Patients," March 2020.) Most of these cases were pursued by just a few hospital systems-the majority of which received more funds from the State's Indigent Care Pool fund than they offered in Hospital Financial Assistance to patients. The current United States Treasury rate of interest is well below 1 percent for the past year, and below 4 percent for most of the past twenty years. In medical debt cases, the 9 percent statutory interest rate can add up quickly. For example, in one case a patient's bill was $17,358 for care received in 2015. New York Presbyterian secured a default judgment on February 2, 2018 in the amount of $22,232, which included $4,703 in interest at the 9 percent interest rate. This provision would address this issue by ensuring that hospitals only secure a reasonable rate of interest and stop the accrual of interest on judgements during the pandemic. For health insurers, the COVID-19 emergency has meant a financial wind- fall as all elective and most non-urgent care has stopped. Insurers should preserve coverage for those who are having trouble paying premi- ums. New York State has taken Administrative action to temporarily stop members from being disenrolled due to failure to pay premiums. This legislation would extend those protections for people experiencing financial hardship as a result of the Emergency until it ends and require insurers to notify members of alternative coverage options and consumer assistance programs.   LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2020: A.10506 - referred to Judiciary Committee   FISCAL: None to State   EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately
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A01753 Text:



 
                STATE OF NEW YORK
        ________________________________________________________________________
 
                                          1753
 
                               2021-2022 Regular Sessions
 
                   IN ASSEMBLY
 
                                    January 11, 2021
                                       ___________
 
        Introduced  by  M.  of A. GOTTFRIED, ENGLEBRIGHT, SEAWRIGHT -- read once
          and referred to the Committee on Judiciary
 
        AN ACT to amend the public health law, the debtor and creditor law,  the
          civil  practice  law  and  rules and the insurance law, in relation to
          COVID-19 pandemic medical debt requirements

          The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and  Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
 
     1    Section  1.  The  public health law is amended by adding a new section
     2  2828 to read as follows:
     3    § 2828. COVID-19 pandemic medical debt requirements.  1.  Definitions.
     4  The  following words or phrases, as used in this section, shall have the
     5  following meanings:
     6    (a) "Collection action" means any of the following:
     7    (i) Selling an individual's debt to another party, except if, prior to
     8  the sale, the medical creditor has entered into a legally binding  writ-
     9  ten agreement with the medical debt buyer of the debt pursuant to which:
    10    (1) The medical debt buyer or collector is prohibited from engaging in
    11  any  collection  actions,  as  defined herein, to obtain payment for the
    12  care;
    13    (2) The medical debt buyer is prohibited from charging interest on the
    14  debt in excess of that described in subdivision three of this section;
    15    (3) The debt is returnable to or recallable by  the  medical  creditor
    16  upon  a determination by the medical creditor or medical debt buyer that
    17  the individual is eligible for financial assistance; and
    18    (4) If the individual is  determined  to  be  eligible  for  financial
    19  assistance  and  the  debt is not returned to or recalled by the medical
    20  creditor, the medical debt buyer is required  to  adhere  to  procedures
    21  which  shall be specified in the agreement that ensure that the individ-
    22  ual does not pay, and has no obligation to pay, the medical  debt  buyer
    23  and  the  medical  creditor  together  more than he or she is personally
    24  responsible for paying in compliance with this section.
 
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                   LBD00589-01-1

        A. 1753                             2
 
     1    (ii) Reporting adverse information  about  a  patient  to  a  consumer
     2  reporting agency; or
     3    (iii)  Actions that require a legal or judicial process, including but
     4  not limited to:
     5    (1) Placing or executing a lien on the individual's property;
     6    (2) Attaching or seizing an individual's bank  account  or  any  other
     7  personal property;
     8    (3) Commencing or prosecuting a civil action against an individual;
     9    (4) Garnishing an individual's wages; or
    10    (5) Any other involuntary collection activity.
    11    (b)  "Consumer  reporting agency" has the same meaning as such term is
    12  defined in section three hundred eighty-a of the general business law.
    13    (c) "Declared state disaster emergency" means  the  declaration  of  a
    14  state of emergency pursuant to article two-B of the executive law.
    15    (d)  "Healthcare  professional"  means  a person licensed or certified
    16  pursuant to title eight of the education law.
    17    (e)  "Healthcare  services"  means   services   for   the   diagnosis,
    18  prevention,  treatment, cure or relief of a physical, dental, behavioral
    19  substance use disorder or mental health condition,  illness,  injury  or
    20  disease. These services include, but are not limited to, any procedures,
    21  products, devices or medications.
    22    (f) "Hospital" means all providers licensed under this article.
    23    (g) "Medical debt" means a debt arising from the receipt of healthcare
    24  services.
    25    (h)  "Medical  debt buyer" means a person or entity that is engaged in
    26  the business of purchasing medical debts for collection purposes, wheth-
    27  er it collects the debt itself or hires a third party for collection  or
    28  an attorney for litigation in order to collect such debt.
    29    (i) "Medical debt collector" means any person or entity that regularly
    30  collects  or  attempts to collect, directly or indirectly, medical debts
    31  originally owed or due or asserted to be  owed  or  due  to  another.  A
    32  medical  debt buyer is considered to be a medical debt collector for all
    33  purposes.
    34    (j) "Patient" means the person who received healthcare  services,  and
    35  for  the purposes of this section shall include: a parent if the patient
    36  is a minor; a legal guardian if the patient is an adult under  guardian-
    37  ship; an authorized representative; or a guarantor.
    38    (k)  "Period of suspension" means a period consisting of the first day
    39  of a declared state disaster emergency related to the COVID-19  pandemic
    40  and  until no less than sixty days after a declared state disaster emer-
    41  gency related to the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer in  effect  anywhere
    42  in the state.
    43    2.  Involuntary collection activity. No hospital or healthcare profes-
    44  sional shall engage in any  collection  actions  during  the  period  of
    45  suspension.
    46    3.  No  accrual  of interest. Interest shall not accrue on any medical
    47  debt described under subdivision two for which collection was  suspended
    48  for the period of suspension.
    49    4.  Notice. To inform patients of the actions taken in accordance with
    50  this section and ensure  an  effective  transition,  all  hospitals  and
    51  healthcare professionals shall:
    52    (a)  Not  later  than  fifteen  days  after the effective date of this
    53  section, notify patients:
    54    (i) of the actions taken in accordance with subdivisions two and three
    55  of this section for whom collections have been  suspended  and  interest
    56  waived;

        A. 1753                             3
 
     1    (ii)  of the option to continue making payments toward any amount due;
     2  and
     3    (iii)  that  the  program  described  in  this  section is a temporary
     4  program.
     5    (b) Within fifteen days after the expiration of the period of  suspen-
     6  sion,  carry  out  a  program  to provide no fewer than three notices by
     7  postal mail, telephone or electronic communication to patients  indicat-
     8  ing:
     9    (i) when the patient's normal payment obligations will resume;
    10    (ii)  with respect to notices submitted by hospitals, that the patient
    11  may be eligible to enroll in the hospital's  financial  assistance  plan
    12  pursuant to section twenty-eight hundred seven-k of this article; and
    13    (iii)  with  respect to notices submitted by healthcare professionals,
    14  that the patient may be eligible to enroll  in  a  financial  assistance
    15  plan,  if  the healthcare professional has a financial assistance policy
    16  for his or her patients.
    17    5. Proof of submission of claim. With  respect  to  patients  who  are
    18  uninsured  on  the date that the treating hospital or healthcare profes-
    19  sional renders  testing  or  treatment  services  related  to  COVID-19,
    20  including,  but not limited to, diagnostic evaluations, testing or other
    21  methods to rule out diseases  with  similar  symptoms  to  COVID-19,  no
    22  hospital or healthcare professional may engage in any collection actions
    23  to  collect  payment  for such services, unless the treating hospital or
    24  healthcare professional produces a sworn affidavit that he,  she  or  it
    25  submitted  a  claim for payment for such services to the federal depart-
    26  ment of health and human services, health resources and services  admin-
    27  istration  (HRSA),  in accordance with federal law, and that HRSA denied
    28  the claim.
    29    6. Private right of action. Every violation of this section  shall  be
    30  deemed a deceptive act and practice subject to enforcement under article
    31  twenty-two-A  of the general business law. Nothing in this section shall
    32  be construed to restrict any right which any person may have  under  any
    33  other statute or the common law.
    34    §  2.  The  debtor and creditor law is amended by adding a new article
    35  10-B to read as follows:
    36                                ARTICLE 10-B
    37         TEMPORARY RELIEF FROM COLLECTION OF MEDICAL DEBT DURING THE
    38                              COVID-19 PANDEMIC
    39  Section 286. Definitions.
    40          287. Requirements.
    41    § 286. Definitions. As used in this article, the following terms shall
    42  have the following meanings:
    43    1. "Collection action" means any of the following:
    44    (a) Selling an individual's debt to another party, except if, prior to
    45  the sale, the medical creditor has entered into a legally binding  writ-
    46  ten agreement with the medical debt buyer of the debt pursuant to which:
    47    (i) The medical debt buyer or collector is prohibited from engaging in
    48  any  collection  actions,  as  defined herein, to obtain payment for the
    49  care;
    50    (ii) The medical debt buyer is prohibited from  charging  interest  on
    51  the debt in excess of that described in this section;
    52    (iii)  The debt is returnable to or recallable by the medical creditor
    53  upon a determination by the medical creditor or medical debt buyer  that
    54  the individual is eligible for financial assistance; and
    55    (iv)  If  the  individual  is  determined to be eligible for financial
    56  assistance and the debt is not returned to or recalled  by  the  medical

        A. 1753                             4
 
     1  creditor,  the  medical  debt  buyer is required to adhere to procedures
     2  which shall be specified in the agreement that ensure that the  individ-
     3  ual  does  not pay, and has no obligation to pay, the medical debt buyer
     4  and  the  medical  creditor  together  more than he or she is personally
     5  responsible for paying in compliance with this section.
     6    (b) Reporting adverse  information  about  a  patient  to  a  consumer
     7  reporting agency; or
     8    (c)  Actions  that  require a legal or judicial process, including but
     9  not limited to:
    10    (i) Placing or executing a lien on the individual's property;
    11    (ii) Attaching or seizing an individual's bank account  or  any  other
    12  personal property;
    13    (iii) Commencing or prosecuting a civil action against an individual;
    14    (iv) Garnishing an individual's wages; or
    15    (v) Any other involuntary collection activity.
    16    2.  "Consumer  reporting  agency" has the same meaning as such term is
    17  defined in section three hundred eighty-a of the general business law.
    18    3. "Declared state disaster emergency"  means  the  declaration  of  a
    19  state of emergency pursuant to article two-B of the executive law.
    20    4.  "Healthcare  professional"  means  a  person licensed or certified
    21  pursuant to title eight of the education law.
    22    5. "Healthcare services" means services for the diagnosis, prevention,
    23  treatment, cure or relief of a physical,  dental,  behavioral  substance
    24  use  disorder  or  mental  health condition, illness, injury or disease.
    25  These  services  include,  but  are  not  limited  to,  any  procedures,
    26  products, devices or medications.
    27    6.  "Hospital" means all hospitals licensed under article twenty-eight
    28  of the public health law.
    29    7. "Medical debt" means a debt arising from the receipt of  healthcare
    30  services.
    31    8.  "Medical  debt  buyer" means a person or entity that is engaged in
    32  the business of purchasing medical debts for collection purposes, wheth-
    33  er it collects the debt itself or hires a third party for collection  or
    34  an attorney for litigation in order to collect such debt.
    35    9.  "Medical debt collector" means any person or entity that regularly
    36  collects or attempts to collect, directly or indirectly,  medical  debts
    37  originally  owed  or  due  or  asserted  to be owed or due to another. A
    38  medical debt buyer is considered to be a medical debt collector for  all
    39  purposes.
    40    10.  "Patient"  means the person who received healthcare services, and
    41  for the purposes of this article shall include: a parent if the  patient
    42  is  a minor; a legal guardian if the patient is an adult under guardian-
    43  ship; an authorized representative; or a guarantor.
    44    11. "Period of suspension" means a period consisting of the first  day
    45  of  a declared state disaster emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic
    46  and until no less than sixty days after a declared state disaster  emer-
    47  gency  related  to the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer in effect anywhere
    48  in the state.
    49    § 287. Requirements. 1. Temporary relief from  collection  of  medical
    50  debt.  All medical debt buyers and collectors shall suspend all payments
    51  due for medical debt through the period of suspension.
    52    2. No accrual of interest. Interest shall not accrue  on  any  medical
    53  debt  described  under subdivision one of this section for which payment
    54  was suspended for the period of suspension.
    55    3. Involuntary collection activity. No medical debt buyer or collector
    56  shall engage in any collection actions during the period of suspension.

        A. 1753                             5
 
     1    4. Notice. To inform patients of the actions taken in accordance  with
     2  this section and ensure an effective transition, all medical debt buyers
     3  and collectors shall:
     4    (a)  Not  later  than  fifteen  days  after the effective date of this
     5  section, notify patients:
     6    (i) of the actions taken in accordance with subdivisions one  and  two
     7  of  this  section  for  whom  payments  have been suspended and interest
     8  waived;
     9    (ii) of the actions taken in accordance with subdivision three of this
    10  section for whom collections have been suspended;
    11    (iii) of the option to continue making payments toward any amount due;
    12  and
    13    (iv) that the program described under  this  section  is  a  temporary
    14  program.
    15    (b)  Within fifteen days after the expiration of the period of suspen-
    16  sion, carry out a program to provide no  fewer  than  three  notices  by
    17  postal  mail, telephone or electronic communication to patients indicat-
    18  ing:
    19    (i) when the patient's normal payment obligations will resume; and
    20    (ii) that the patient may be eligible to enroll in a financial assist-
    21  ance plan pursuant to any applicable and available financial  assistance
    22  policy of either the medical debt buyer or collector.
    23    5.  Proof  of  submission  of  claim. With respect to patients who are
    24  uninsured on the date that the treating hospital or  healthcare  profes-
    25  sional  renders  testing  or  treatment  services  related  to COVID-19,
    26  including, but not limited to, diagnostic evaluations, testing or  other
    27  methods  to  rule  out  diseases  with  similar symptoms to COVID-19, no
    28  medical debt buyer or collector may engage in any collection actions  to
    29  collect  payment  for  such  services,  unless  the treating hospital or
    30  healthcare professional produces a sworn affidavit that he,  she  or  it
    31  submitted  a  claim for payment for such services to the federal depart-
    32  ment of health and human services, health resources and services  admin-
    33  istration  (HRSA),  in accordance with federal law, and that HRSA denied
    34  the claim.
    35    6. Private right of action. Every violation of this section  shall  be
    36  deemed a deceptive act and practice subject to enforcement under article
    37  twenty-two-A  of the general business law. Nothing in this section shall
    38  be construed to restrict any right which any person may have  under  any
    39  other statute or the common law.
    40    §  3.  Section 5004 of the civil practice law and rules, as amended by
    41  chapter 258 of the laws of 1981, is amended to read as follows:
    42    § 5004. Rate of interest. Interest shall be at the rate  of  nine  per
    43  centum  per  annum, except where otherwise provided by statute, provided
    44  that the annual rate of interest to be paid on  a  judgment  or  accrued
    45  claim  in  an  action arising from a medical debt, as defined by section
    46  two thousand eight hundred twenty-eight of the public health law,  where
    47  the  purchaser,  borrower or debtor is the defendant shall be calculated
    48  at the one-year United States treasury bill rate; and  provided  further
    49  that  no  interest  shall  accrue  on  a judgment or accrued claim in an
    50  action arising from a medical debt while the  state  disaster  emergency
    51  order related to the COVID-19 pandemic is in effect. For the purposes of
    52  this  section, the "one-year United States treasury bill rate" means the
    53  weekly average one-year constant maturity treasury yield,  as  published
    54  by  the board of governors of the federal reserve system, for the calen-
    55  dar week preceding the date  of  the  entry  of  the  judgment  awarding
    56  damages.

        A. 1753                             6
 
     1    § 4. The insurance law is amended by adding a new section 3244 to read
     2  as follows:
     3    §  3244.  Extension  of  premium  payment periods; COVID-19. (a) Defi-
     4  nitions. As used in this section, the following  terms  shall  have  the
     5  following meanings:
     6    (1)  "Credit reporting agency" means a reporting agency that regularly
     7  engages in the practice of assembling or evaluating and maintaining, for
     8  the purpose of furnishing credit reports to third parties bearing  on  a
     9  person's  credit  worthiness,  credit  standing, or credit capacity, and
    10  credit account information from persons  who  furnish  that  information
    11  regularly and in the ordinary course of business.
    12    (2)  "Late  fee"  means  a  fee  associated  with an insurance premium
    13  payment that is made at a time later than  the  premium  due  date,  but
    14  prior  to  both insurance policy or contract termination and the time in
    15  which an insurer,  HMO,  or  student  health  plan  may  reject  premium
    16  payment.
    17    (3)  "Medical  debt buyer" means a person or entity that is engaged in
    18  the business of purchasing medical debts for collection purposes, wheth-
    19  er it collects the debt itself or hires a third-party for collection  or
    20  an attorney for litigation in order to collect such debt.
    21    (4) "Medical debt collector" means any person or entity that regularly
    22  collects  or  attempts to collect, directly or indirectly, medical debts
    23  originally owed or due or asserted to be  owed  or  due  to  another.  A
    24  medical  debt buyer is considered to be a medical debt collector for all
    25  purposes.
    26    (5) "Student health plan" has the meaning set forth in paragraph  five
    27  of  subsection  (a)  of  section one thousand one hundred twenty-four of
    28  this chapter.
    29    (6) "Child health plus" means coverage issued pursuant to section  two
    30  thousand five hundred eleven of the public health law.
    31    (7)  "HMO"  shall  mean a health maintenance organization operating in
    32  accordance with the provisions  of  article  forty-four  of  the  public
    33  health law or article forty-three of this chapter.
    34    (b)  Extension of premium payment periods. Every issuer of individual,
    35  small group and student blanket comprehensive health insurance  policies
    36  subject  to  this  article, as well as any issuer of a child health plus
    37  policy where the policyholder or contract holder pays the entire  premi-
    38  um, shall, subject to consideration by the superintendent of the liquid-
    39  ity and solvency of the applicable insurer, HMO, or student health plan,
    40  extend  the  period  for the payment of premiums for any policyholder or
    41  contract holder who can demonstrate financial hardship as  a  result  of
    42  the  COVID-19  pandemic to the later of the expiration of the applicable
    43  contractual grace period and the date sixty days after a state  disaster
    44  emergency  is  no longer in effect with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic
    45  anywhere in the state. Such an insurer, HMO,  and  student  health  plan
    46  shall  be  responsible  for the payment of claims during such period and
    47  may not retroactively terminate the insurance policy for non-payment  of
    48  the premium during such period.
    49    (c)  Requirements.  With  regard  to  an  individual,  small group, or
    50  student blanket comprehensive health insurance policyholder or  contract
    51  holder  who  does  not make a timely premium payment and can demonstrate
    52  financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the  applicable
    53  insurer, HMO, or student health plan: (1) shall not impose any late fees
    54  relating  to such premium payment; (2) shall not report the policyholder
    55  or contract holder to a credit reporting agency or refer the policyhold-
    56  er or contract holder to a medical debt buyer or collector with  respect

        A. 1753                             7
 
     1  to  such  premium  payment; (3) shall provide information to the policy-
     2  holder or contract holder regarding alternate  policies  available  from
     3  the insurer, HMO, or student health plan and provide contact information
     4  for  the NY state of health established pursuant to title seven of arti-
     5  cle two of the public health law;  and  (4)  shall  provide  information
     6  regarding  health  insurance and medical debt consumer assistance avail-
     7  able from the state designated consumer assistance program.
     8    (d) Other provisions. (1) Subject to consideration by the  superinten-
     9  dent  of  the  liquidity and solvency of the applicable insurer, HMO, or
    10  student health plan, the insurer,  HMO,  or  student  health  plan  also
    11  shall,  within  ten  business  days following the effective date of this
    12  section:
    13    (A) mail or deliver, which may include electronic mail, written notice
    14  to every individual,  small  group,  or  student  blanket  comprehensive
    15  health  insurance  policyholder and contract holder of the provisions of
    16  this section and a toll-free number that the individual, small group, or
    17  student blanket comprehensive health insurance policyholder or  contract
    18  holder may call to discuss billing and make alternative payment arrange-
    19  ments; and
    20    (B) notify insurance producers and any third-party administrators with
    21  whom  or  which  the  insurer  does  business  of the provisions of this
    22  section.
    23    (2) A licensed insurance producer who procured the  individual,  small
    24  group,  or student blanket comprehensive health insurance policy for the
    25  policyholder or contract holder shall mail or deliver, which may include
    26  electronic mail, notice to the policyholder or contract  holder  of  the
    27  provisions of this section within ten business days following the effec-
    28  tive date of this section.
    29    (3)  Solely  for  the  purposes  of  this section, an insurer, HMO, or
    30  student health plan shall accept a written attestation from an  individ-
    31  ual,  small  group,  or  student  blanket  comprehensive policyholder or
    32  contract holder as proof of  financial  hardship  as  a  result  of  the
    33  COVID-19 pandemic.
    34    (4) Nothing in this section shall prohibit an individual, small group,
    35  or  student  blanket  comprehensive  health  insurance  policyholder  or
    36  contract holder from voluntarily cancelling a health insurance policy.
    37    (5) The period to pay insurance premiums set  forth  in  this  section
    38  shall not constitute a waiver or forgiveness of the premium.
    39    (6)  The  period  set  forth in subsection (b) of this section applies
    40  only to terminations attributed to a failure  by  an  individual,  small
    41  group, or student blanket comprehensive health insurance policyholder or
    42  contract  holder to pay premiums during such period. If an insurer, HMO,
    43  or student health plan terminates a policy for any other reason  permit-
    44  ted  by  law, the insurer, HMO, or student health plan shall comply with
    45  statutory notice requirements.
    46    § 5. The insurance law is amended by adding a new section 4331 to read
    47  as follows:
    48    § 4331. Extension of premium  payment  periods;  COVID-19.  (a)  Defi-
    49  nitions.    As  used in this section, the following terms shall have the
    50  following meanings:
    51    (1) "Credit reporting agency" means a reporting agency that  regularly
    52  engages in the practice of assembling or evaluating and maintaining, for
    53  the  purpose  of furnishing credit reports to third parties bearing on a
    54  person's credit worthiness, credit standing,  or  credit  capacity,  and
    55  credit  account  information  from  persons who furnish that information
    56  regularly and in the ordinary course of business.

        A. 1753                             8
 
     1    (2) "Late fee" means  a  fee  associated  with  an  insurance  premium
     2  payment  that  is  made  at  a time later than the premium due date, but
     3  prior to both insurance policy or contract termination and the  time  in
     4  which  an  insurer,  HMO,  or  student  health  plan  may reject premium
     5  payment.
     6    (3)  "Medical  debt buyer" means a person or entity that is engaged in
     7  the business of purchasing medical debts for collection purposes, wheth-
     8  er it collects the debt itself or hires a third-party for collection  or
     9  an attorney for litigation in order to collect such debt.
    10    (4) "Medical debt collector" means any person or entity that regularly
    11  collects  or  attempts to collect, directly or indirectly, medical debts
    12  originally owed or due or asserted to be  owed  or  due  to  another.  A
    13  medical  debt buyer is considered to be a medical debt collector for all
    14  purposes.
    15    (5) "Student health plan" has the meaning set forth in paragraph  five
    16  of  subsection  (a)  of  section one thousand one hundred twenty-four of
    17  this chapter.
    18    (6) "Child health plus" means coverage issued pursuant to section  two
    19  thousand five hundred eleven of the public health law.
    20    (7)  "HMO"  shall  mean a health maintenance organization operating in
    21  accordance with the provisions  of  article  forty-four  of  the  public
    22  health law or this article.
    23    (b) Extension of premium payment periods. Every medical expense indem-
    24  nity  corporation,  HMO,  hospital service corporation or health service
    25  corporation subject to this article which issues direct pay, small group
    26  or student blanket comprehensive contracts, as well  as  any  issuer  of
    27  child health plus coverage where the subscriber pays the entire premium,
    28  subject  to  consideration  by  the  superintendent of the liquidity and
    29  solvency of the applicable medical expense indemnity  corporation,  HMO,
    30  hospital service corporation or health service corporation, shall extend
    31  the  period for the payment of premiums for any policyholder or contract
    32  holder who can demonstrate financial hardship as a result of the  COVID-
    33  19 pandemic to the later of the expiration of the applicable contractual
    34  grace period and the date sixty days after a state disaster emergency is
    35  no  longer  in  effect with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic anywhere in
    36  the state.  Such a medical expense indemnity corporation, HMO,  hospital
    37  service  corporation  or health service corporation shall be responsible
    38  for the payment of claims during such period and may  not  retroactively
    39  terminate  the contract for non-payment of the premium during such peri-
    40  od.
    41    (c) Requirements. With regard to a direct pay, small group, or student
    42  blanket comprehensive health insurance contract holder who does not make
    43  a timely premium payment and can demonstrate  financial  hardship  as  a
    44  result  of  the COVID-19 pandemic, the applicable medical expense indem-
    45  nity corporation, HMO, hospital service corporation  or  health  service
    46  corporation: (1) shall not impose any late fees relating to such premium
    47  payment;  (2) shall not report the contract holder to a credit reporting
    48  agency or refer the contract holder to a medical debt buyer or collector
    49  with respect to such premium payment; (3) shall provide  information  to
    50  the  contract  holder  regarding  alternate  policies available from the
    51  medical expense indemnity corporation, hospital service  corporation  or
    52  health  service corporation; and (4) shall provide information regarding
    53  health insurance and medical debt consumer assistance available from the
    54  state designated consumer assistance program.
    55    (d) Other provisions. (1) Subject to consideration by the  superinten-
    56  dent  of  the  liquidity  and solvency of the applicable medical expense

        A. 1753                             9
 
     1  indemnity corporation,  HMO,  hospital  service  corporation  or  health
     2  service  corporation,  medical  expense  indemnity corporation, hospital
     3  service corporation or health service corporation also shall, within ten
     4  business days following the effective date of this section:
     5    (A) mail or deliver, which may include electronic mail, written notice
     6  to  every  direct  pay,  small  group,  or student blanket comprehensive
     7  health insurance contract holder of the provisions of this section and a
     8  toll-free number that the direct pay small  group,  or  student  blanket
     9  comprehensive  health  contract  holder  may call to discuss billing and
    10  make alternative payment arrangements;
    11    (B) notify insurance producers and any third-party administrators with
    12  whom or which the medical expense indemnity corporation,  HMO,  hospital
    13  service  corporation  or health service corporation does business of the
    14  provisions of this section.
    15    (2) A licensed insurance producer who procured the direct  pay,  small
    16  group, or student blanket comprehensive contract for the contract holder
    17  shall  mail or deliver, which may include electronic mail, notice to the
    18  contract holder of the provisions of this section  within  ten  business
    19  days following the effective date of this section.
    20    (3)  Solely for the purposes of this section, a medical expense indem-
    21  nity corporation, HMO, hospital service corporation  or  health  service
    22  corporation  shall accept a written attestation from a direct pay, small
    23  group, or student blanket comprehensive  contract  holder  as  proof  of
    24  financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    25    (4)  Nothing in this section shall prohibit a direct pay, small group,
    26  or  student  blanket  comprehensive  contract  holder  from  voluntarily
    27  cancelling a contract.
    28    (5)  The  period  to  pay premiums set forth in this section shall not
    29  constitute a waiver or forgiveness of the premium.
    30    (6) The period set forth in subsection (b)  of  this  section  applies
    31  only  to  terminations  attributed  to  a failure by a direct pay, small
    32  group, or student blanket comprehensive contract holder to pay  premiums
    33  during such period. If a medical expense indemnity corporation, hospital
    34  service  corporation  or  health service corporation terminates a policy
    35  for any other reason permitted  by  law,  the  insurer  medical  expense
    36  indemnity  corporation,  hospital  service corporation or health service
    37  corporation shall comply with statutory notice requirements.
    38    § 6. This act shall take effect immediately.
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