New Virginia bills in effect could make bills from UVA Health more affordable

UVA Health (FILE)
UVA Health (FILE)
Published: Jul. 2, 2022 at 9:25 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Some new laws are officially in effect in Virginia, and some could have a direct impact on UVA Health. That could mean more affordable healthcare in the Commonwealth.

The general assembly is making hospitals more transparent.

“Healthcare is important to everyone, but especially here in our community,” 57th District’s Delegate Sally Hudson said.

Hudson sits on the health committee for the general assembly.

“We had a lot of big problems with medical debt collection for many years,” Hudson said.

She says those problems were happening right at UVA Health. This goes back to 2019, when patients from the Health Center reported being hundred of millions of dollars in debt. Now delegates and the Health Center are taking steps to prevent that from happening again.

“A hospital can’t put a lien on your home or your car, you can’t garnish anybody’s wages. And now instead, they have to review all patients who don’t have insurance to check and see if they qualify for financial programs and make sure that everybody can get on a repayment plan that fits with their income if they need it,” Hudson said.

She helped carry that bill into effect. She says the Legal Aid Justice Center was a key partner, too when the debt collection scandals were happening in the Charlottesville community.

“This was something that we were hearing constantly from Charlottesville residents, that they had been caught in a trap with their medical bills,” Hudson said.

She says now nobody will go through that again whether they are in Charlottesville, or another part of the commonwealth.

“UVA Health is such an important cornerstone of our community and I give them a lot of credit for working to set better standards, not just for themselves and their own patients, but also helping us bring more hospitals on board,” Hudson said.

HB 481 is also now in effect, which requires every hospital to provide information on its website about standard charges for items and services. This transparency could also limit the amount patients are spending, and prevent medical bills that end up totaling to a surprise amount.

“If you’re trying to decide where you’re going to plan to deliver your baby, you can choose the hospital that’s going to fit right for your insurance and the care that you need,” Hudson said.

She says these bills are putting patients in the driving seat when it comes to their healthcare.

“We have a very healthcare focused community, not just our patients, but we got two big hospitals and an awful lot of health care providers. It’s also just core to everyone’s life,” Hudson said.

Delegate Hudson says in theory, this new transparency in the hospitals could encourage hospitals to lower their prices in the long run, especially as they try to compete with others in the area.

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