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The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems announced it had worked with lawmakers to pass legislation that will clarify and standardize the financial assistance policies of all Oregon hospitals. The legislative language was added to HB 4020 which passed in Salem March 2, 2018. 

"Hospitals sought this legislation because it will ensure clarity around how they communicate about financial assistance policies with patients—ensuring the neediest patients are given the help they need," said Andy Van Pelt, executive vice president of OAHHS. "We don't want any patients in need to find there are barriers to receiving financial assistance. All hospitals in the state offer financial assistance, and we need to be sure everyone who qualifies is getting it."

This legislative push builds on voluntary policies hospitals have had in place since 2015, in which patients whose household income is below 200 percent of the federal poverty level are given free care. Many hospitals offer sliding scale assistance at income levels above that point.

Under the terms of the legislation, hospitals will need to:

* Communicate financial assistance policies in plain language;

* Give patients notice of the policies upon request and in billing statements;

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* Develop a standard application for financial assistance to be used at hospitals statewide.

"These new requirements build on hospitals' existing commitment to providing help to those in need. Oregon's hospitals provide hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of free and reduced price care each year," added Van Pelt. "They remain committed to providing appropriate assistance to any patient in need. The measures contained in the amendment will ensure that there's few opportunities for people to slip through the cracks."

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