U.S. Representative Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) Wednesday introduced H.R. 3920, legislation to expand the use of interest-free payment arrangements in order to improve Medicare patients’ access to care and help ease the financial burden of costly hospital bills.
“Health care providers in northern Indiana have led the way in finding innovative solutions to keep patients healthy, both physically and financially,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “I’ve seen firsthand how interest-free payment plans like those offered at Elkhart General Hospital and Memorial Hospital of South Bend can ease financial burdens for patients. My bill will build on the success of these programs by helping us better understand their impact on access to care, health outcomes, and Medicare bad debt claims.”
Amid rising medical costs, seniors on fixed incomes too often forgo much-needed treatment over concerns about paying medical bills. Many hospitals are using innovative agreements with third-party financing companies to offer patients flexible, interest-free payment options. These payment arrangements give patients greater flexibility in paying their deductibles and coinsurance under Medicare Part A and help reduce claims for Medicare bad debt.
H.R. 3920 would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to implement a demonstration program on the use of these payment arrangements. The three-year demonstration program in five states would examine the impact of third-party interest-free payment arrangements on patient engagement, satisfaction, health outcomes, and claims for Medicare Part A bad debts.
Walorski in August 2015 visited Elkhart General Hospital, part of South Bend-based Beacon Health System, to learn how the hospital uses a patient-centered financing program through CarePayment to improve access to care.
Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.