Legislature(1995 - 1996)

05/03/1996 01:30 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                CSHB 306(JUD) PHYSICIAN'S LIENS                               
                                                                              
 MARVEEN COGGINS, staff to Representative Toohey, sponsor of HB 306,           
 explained current statute allows a hospital or licensed special               
 nurse who gives medical care to a patient for a traumatic injury to           
 place a lien on any sum awarded to the injured person, however                
 physicians do not have the same statutory right.  HB 306 addresses            
 that section of statute that has not been changed since Statehood.            
 It adds physicians to those who can file liens to get third party             
 reimbursement for services rendered.  Further changes were made in            
 the House Judiciary Committee pertaining to update the lien                   
 statutes in general.  The time period in which to file a lien was             
 extended from 15 to 90 days after the injury or discharge from the            
 hospital.  It requires a general description of services rendered             
 rather than an itemized statement.  It requires the lien to be                
 filed in the recorder's office, but deletes the requirement that it           
 be filed in the recording district or borough in which the injury             
 occurred.  With modern computerization, when a lien is filed in any           
 recording office, it can be found in the state's centralized index            
 system.  It deletes the requirement that the copy of the liens sent           
 by mail be certified, and repeals a section about lien dockets, no            
 longer used.  HB 306 has a zero fiscal note and passed the House              
 unanimously.                                                                  
                                                                               
 SENATOR GREEN verified this only adds to the present description              
 the word "physician."  MS. COGGINS agreed, except for the changes             
 to update the lien statute.                                                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER disagreed, and noted Section 3 expands the number of           
 days in which the lien can be filed, and no longer requires an                
 itemized statement, just a statement of general services, which he            
 believed to be a dramatic expansion.                                          
                                                                               
 MS. COGGINS commented she worked with an attorney, Peter                      
 Ashenbrenner, who does a lot of lien work, on this bill.  Regarding           
 Section 3, the extension of the lien filing time, 15 days was                 
 thought to be too short a time frame because a hospital staff has             
 to screen for the patients who are victimized by traumatic injury             
 and then identify the place of injury.  Regarding the itemized                
 statement, that statement was more like a hospital bill, and there            
 was concern that the statement could reveal confidential                      
 information.  A general statement can be more informative than an             
 itemized one.  Contractors provide a general description of the               
 labor and materials, services, or equipment provided.  It renders             
 unnecessary the questionable practice of filing in the public                 
 record the itemized billing statement.  The filing location                   
 requirement was changed only to update the statute to what is                 
 current practice using the centralized computer system.                       
                                                                               
 Number 175                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN TAYLOR stated he discussed this bill with Mr. Ashenbrenner           
 because of concerns about piggybacking.  If a physician and the               
 hospital piggybacked their lien claims onto the plaintiff's case,             
 once the case was over, and all of the work had been paid for by              
 other people, the doctor could come forward and ask for 100 percent           
 payment without sharing in any of the costs associated with the               
 judgment.  Mr. Ashenbrenner prepared a detailed memo clarifying               
 that there is sufficient case law so that if a doctor checks the              
 central filing and determines a lien has been place, the doctor               
 must join in the settlement process to be reimbursed.  In most                
 cases the doctor will still receive 100 percent, but in a case                
 where there is not enough money to pay for all medical bills, the             
 physician or hospital will have to participate in whatever the                
 original contingency contract.  This bill will become an effective            
 tool for physicians to use to get their bills paid.  Hospitals and            
 nurses seldom took advantage of the lien rights they had because of           
 the difficulty in filing under the limited time constraints.                  
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN TAYLOR referred to a discussion of the Noreen case                   
 contained in committee members' packets that clearly indicates                
 physicians would have to pay for their participation in the                   
 judgment.                                                                     
 Number 242                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR GREEN moved CSHB 306(JUD) from committee with individual              
 recommendations.  There being no objection, the motion carried.               
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN TAYLOR announced the committee is awaiting a Senate                  
 Judiciary committee substitute for HB 372 which will be heard at              
 the soonest possible date, and adjourned the meeting.                         

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