The burden known as the University of Connecticut Health Center wants some more special treatment — and it has to do with tax refunds. A proposal pending in the House of Representativeswould allow UConn to snatch any state income tax refund you're due if you owe the hospital money.
It may seem innocuous on its surface, though chipping away at the barriers that keep the tax department from sharing information should always raise their own alarms. This one is worse. UConn would have the right to collect patient debts by reporting them to the state Department of Revenue Services.
Here's the public health problem. As this policy becomes known among people with rickety personal finances seeking health care, some patients are going to avoid UConn and head for hospitals that can't use the state tax department as a bill collector. Burdened urban hospitals in Hartford, New Britain, Bristoland Waterbury will have to provide medical care to a disproportionate number of patients who cannot pay. Score one for the state hospital in leafy, affluent Farmington. The Connecticut Hospital Association is so weak that this ill-considered proposal could become law.
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