TRENTON, N.J. – Today the Assembly voted unanimously to pass a bill (A1697), sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer, that prohibits medical providers from reporting unpaid workers’ compensation charges to collection and credit reporting agencies. It now goes to the governor for consideration.
“Workers comp cases can be long and drawn out and medical bills can pile up,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “Those bills can go unpaid until a judge assigns responsibility. When a medical provider reports the outstanding charges to collections or credit reporting agencies, it adds insult to injury for the victim who can’t go to work and the impact can be devastating to their credit.”
Under Dancer’s bill, balances due cannot be reported as unpaid until a workers’ compensation judge’s decision is finalized or the claim is settled in court.
“We cannot allow workers who have been hurt on the job to suffer ruined finances as well,” said Dancer who noted the bill originated from a constituent who came to him about a pending workers’ compensation case. “The first doctor and hospital visit, before the employer accepted the workers’ compensation claim, were financially damaging. After 30 days, they sent the account to collections, crushing his credit score and creating severe financial hardships for the family.”
The bill imposes a maximum fine of $5,000 for violations. The Senate version of the bill (S3036) passed by a vote of 37-1.