New York State Law Limiting Debt Collection Remedies Against Patients

In case you missed the recent Rockland County Journal News article regarding medical/dental debts, on November 23, 2022 Governor Hochul signed into law Chapter 648 of the laws of 2022, which legislation is effective immediately. The new law prevents hospital and health care professionals from utilizing a “property lien” against the patient’s primary residence or using wage garnishment against the patient as a means of satisfying a judgment arising out of a medical or dental obligation. The legislation amends Section 5201(b) of the Civil Practice Law and Rules stating that, “No property lien shall be entered or enforced against a debtor’s primary residence in an action arising from a medical debt and brought by a hospital licensed under article twenty-eight of the public health law or a health care professional authorized under title eight of the education law.” The legislation further provides that where a judgment debtor is receiving or will receive money from any source, and an income execution is issued and delivered to the sheriff in the county (or to the City Marshall in the City of New York) in which the judgment debtor resides, or where the judgment debtor is a nonresident, the county in which he/she is employed, no amount shall be withheld from the judgment debtor’s earnings to satisfy the judgment arising from a medical debt action by a hospital or health care professional.

Also, in case you missed it, back on April 3, 2020, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law an amendment to New York Civil Practice Law and Rules Section 213-d, which states in part, that an action on a medical debt by a hospital or health care professional shall be commenced within three (3) years of treatment. Previously medical debts were covered under the standard six (6) year statute of limitations covering contracts. The three (3) year statute of limitation reduction was effective immediately upon the Governor signing the legislation. The statute of limitation is tied to the date of the patient’s date of treatment and not the traditional statute of limitation trigger date of contact breach (i.e. failure to pay on the due date of an obligation or on the date that a party omits the performance of a contractual obligation).