NCLEJ and the Kentucky Equal Justice Center sue over unconstitutional medical debt collection practices

Last week, NCLEJ and the Kentucky Equal Justice Center filed a federal class action lawsuit against University of Kentucky Healthcare and the Kentucky Department of Revenue on behalf of thousands of patients of the UK Healthcare system.

The complaint alleges that UK’s debt collection practices violate the due process clause of the constitution. Unlike private hospitals, which must take patients to court before collecting outstanding debts, UK refers the debts to the State tax authority, which adds a 25% fee plus interest. The DOR garnishes people’s wages (including entire paychecks), sweeps their banks accounts, seizes state tax refunds, and places liens on their property, all without first giving patients the opportunity to appeal their medical bills.

The suit, in which five Kentucky residents are listed as plaintiffs, seeks to prevent the state from forcibly collecting medical debts without first providing patients notice of their appeal rights and an opportunity to contest the debt.

The case has received press coverage here: