UK HealthCare has powerful debt collection tools at its disposal thanks to its partnership with the Department of Revenue, which can garnish wages, levy bank accounts or intercept tax returns to get at money allegedly owed to the university — all without a court order.
Five patients are suing the University of Kentucky health care system and the Kentucky Department of Revenue over medical debt collection practices. The plaintiffs, represented by the Kentucky Equal Justice Center and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, allege UK HealthCare and the DOR violate patients rights to due process by collecting debts without giving patients adequate notice or opportunity to contest the debts. The class action lawsuit is seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, meaning the plaintiffs and their lawyers are asking the DOR and UK HealthCare to stop collecting debts until patients are given adequate notice and the chance to challenge debts. UK HealthCare is the only hospital system in the state that can utilize the DOR for collection. This means, unlike other health care providers who would have to take debtors to court, UK HealthCare can avail itself of the state’s powerful collection tools including wage garnishments, withholding tax returns and liens on property, all without a court order.