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Medic patients with overdue bills may soon see their wages and bank accounts seized, courtesy of the Mecklenburg County tax collector’s office. These “advanced tax collection methods,” announced Tuesday, will apply to bills that are older than 120 days from the date of service, the county said.
Why this matters: Critics say the move will most severely affect Black, brown and poor people: “If you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it,” Charlotte NAACP President Corine Mack told The Charlotte Observer. “There’s a reason why you haven’t paid your bills.”
The announcement also comes at a time when hospital systems in some parts of the nation have gotten pushback after implementing aggressive collection methods, including suing patients for overdue bills.
What is Medic? The Mecklenburg Emergency Medical Services Agency (Medic) is a countywide ambulance service operated by Novant Health and Atrium Health under a county contract.
According to the Observer, Medic has 35,177 accounts that are past due, total $28.7 million. Of those claims, 2,678 are more than 120 days past due, totaling $2.2 million. That’s an average of about $821 per claim, the newspaper reported.
In a notice sent to local media, the county said delinquent bills will be sent to the Mecklenburg Tax Collector’s office starting Oct. 1. Such a move is allowed under state statute, the county said. In addition to garnishments, the patients with overdue Medic bills also will face a $30 fee associated with the collection process.
Why now? User fees cover most of Medic’s $66 million annual budget, the Observer reported. Mecklenburg County taxpayers kick in about $11 million annually. County officials said the aggressive collect methods are needed to avoid increased costs to users and taxpayers.
Got questions? The county has put together this document that answers some frequently asked questions.
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