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Bringing Together Advocates on Health Care Collections

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ACA’s Health Care Committee Chair Scott Brownlee recently spoke at an HFMA conference, highlighting the need for the ARM industry and health care provider clients to work together on advocacy.

Health care receivables and the collection process surrounding them are increasingly in the spotlight, with multiple states focusing on medical debt laws and federal regulators and legislators targeting medical debt credit reporting.

With that in mind, ACA International is equally focused on advocacy in this area and fostering ways for member agencies and their health care clients to work together and educate policymakers.

ACA Health Care Committee Chair Scott Brownlee recently spoke at a conference for the Connecticut chapter of the Health Care Financial Management Association (HFMA). He said having health care providers, revenue cycle professionals and collection agencies all in one room helped him realize that there are opportunities for advocacy partnerships. 

“As chair of the Health Care Committee, we’ve been talking about advocacy and things that need to happen to bring people together from different areas of the world in the health care and ARM industries,” said Brownlee, who is director of product training and customer engagement at TCN. 

His HFMA presentation initially evolved from a committee discussion on technology for patient financial services, such as contact center systems, as well as staffing challenges and changes in the regulatory world—particularly with medical debt credit reporting. 

“I wanted to make sure that [HFMA members] understood what was happening with credit reporting and about the changes to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act impacting call and message requirements to patients,” Brownlee said. 

Recent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau actions were also discussed, given its increased focus on medical debt issues. 

Even with health care and medical debt limited from the CFPB’s purview, from Brownlee’s perspective as a longtime industry professional, it means the bureau is expanding its scope of the health care revenue cycle market—at least when it comes to large providers.

Health Care Advocacy

Advocacy was also discussed at the HFMA conference, Brownlee said.

What it comes down to, he said, is that groups like HFMA, ACA and the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management need to work together on advocacy and educate each other when there are universal issues that affect collections and health care revenue cycle operations. 

“We’re fighting that fight and we can’t fight it alone,” Brownlee said. 

It can seem challenging to prioritize which issue to advocate on and how, but ACA and other organizations have resources on top issues that can help. 

Half the battle is showing up and telling your story.

“We want to get that information out there so people can act on the front end,” Brownlee said, adding that his message seemed to resonate with the group at the HFMA event. 

“We’re confident that we can be partners in our industry beyond our clients,” Brownlee said. “Our goal is to help the ARM industry thrive, whether the times are good or whether they’re challenging.”

Get Involved 

Brownlee said he understands that collection agencies with health care clients are focused on their business needs and helping consumers, but discussing legislative and regulatory issues should be part of that partnership. 

ACA’s Health Care Committee is working on a series of videos for collection agencies to share with their clients about the revenue cycle, and recently released a free issue of the Pulse health care newsletter for all ACA members. 

For smaller collection agencies or health care providers, Brownlee said the key is sharing resources such as Pulse. 

On ACA’s side, the association has expanded its advocacy in letters to key congressional committees on the medical debt credit reporting issue and the CFPB’s authority in medical debt collection regulations. 

At its Washington Insights Fly-In, ACA hosted a Health Care Receivables Discussion with members of Congress, their staff and representatives from HFMA and AAHAM.

This content was originally published by ACA International and is presented for educational, general reference, and informational purposes only.

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