California Code, Health and Safety Code - HSC § 127405




(a)(1)(A) Each hospital shall maintain an understandable written policy regarding discount payments for financially qualified patients as well as an understandable written charity care policy.  Uninsured patients or patients with high medical costs who are at or below 350 percent of the federal poverty level, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 127400 , shall be eligible to apply for participation under a hospital's charity care policy or discount payment policy.  Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, a hospital may choose to grant eligibility for its discount payment policy or charity care policies to patients with incomes over 350 percent of the federal poverty level.  Both the charity care policy and the discount payment policy shall state the process used by the hospital to determine whether a patient is eligible for charity care or discounted payment.  In the event of a dispute, a patient may seek review from the business manager, chief financial officer, or other appropriate manager as designated in the charity care policy and the discount payment policy.

(B) The written policy regarding discount payments shall also include a statement that an emergency physician, as defined in Section 127450 , who provides emergency medical services in a hospital that provides emergency care is also required by law to provide discounts to uninsured patients or patients with high medical costs who are at or below 350 percent of the federal poverty level.  This statement shall not be construed to impose any additional responsibilities upon the hospital.

(2) Rural hospitals, as defined in Section 124840 , may establish eligibility levels for financial assistance and charity care at less than 350 percent of the federal poverty level as appropriate to maintain their financial and operational integrity.

(b) A hospital's discount payment policy shall clearly state eligibility criteria based upon income consistent with the application of the federal poverty level.  The discount payment policy shall also include an extended payment plan to allow payment of the discounted price over time.  The policy shall provide that the hospital and the patient shall negotiate the terms of the payment plan, and take into consideration the patient's family income and essential living expenses.  If the hospital and the patient cannot agree on the payment plan, the hospital shall use the formula described in subdivision (i) of Section 127400 to create a reasonable payment plan.

(c) The charity care policy shall state clearly the eligibility criteria for charity care.  In determining eligibility under its charity care policy, a hospital may consider income and monetary assets of the patient.  For purposes of this determination, monetary assets shall not include retirement or deferred compensation plans qualified under the Internal Revenue Code,  1 or nonqualified deferred compensation plans.  Furthermore, the first ten thousand dollars ($10,000) of a patient's monetary assets shall not be counted in determining eligibility, nor shall 50 percent of a patient's monetary assets over the first ten thousand dollars ($10,000) be counted in determining eligibility.

(d) A hospital shall limit expected payment for services it provides to a patient at or below 350 percent of the federal poverty level, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 127400 , eligible under its discount payment policy to the amount of payment the hospital would expect, in good faith, to receive for providing services from Medicare, Medi-Cal, the Healthy Families Program, or another government-sponsored health program of health benefits in which the hospital participates, whichever is greater.  If the hospital provides a service for which there is no established payment by Medicare or any other government-sponsored program of health benefits in which the hospital participates, the hospital shall establish an appropriate discounted payment.

(e) A patient, or patient's legal representative, who requests a discounted payment, charity care, or other assistance in meeting his or her financial obligation to the hospital shall make every reasonable effort to provide the hospital with documentation of income and health benefits coverage.  If the person requests charity care or a discounted payment and fails to provide information that is reasonable and necessary for the hospital to make a determination, the hospital may consider that failure in making its determination.

(1) For purposes of determining eligibility for discounted payment, documentation of income shall be limited to recent pay stubs or income tax returns.

(2) For purposes of determining eligibility for charity care, documentation of assets may include information on all monetary assets, but shall not include statements on retirement or deferred compensation plans qualified under the Internal Revenue Code, or nonqualified deferred compensation plans.  A hospital may require waivers or releases from the patient or the patient's family, authorizing the hospital to obtain account information from financial or commercial institutions, or other entities that hold or maintain the monetary assets, to verify their value.

(3) Information obtained pursuant to paragraph (1) or (2) shall not be used for collections activities.  This paragraph does not prohibit the use of information obtained by the hospital, collection agency, or assignee independently of the eligibility process for charity care or discounted payment.

(4) Eligibility for discounted payments or charity care may be determined at any time the hospital is in receipt of information specified in paragraph (1) or (2), respectively.

1  Internal Revenue Code sections are in Title 26 of the U.S.C.A.




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