Debt collection bill for workers’ comp claims passed

Lawmakers approved a bill May 13 meant to assist individuals facing collection of certain medical debts.

<a href='' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh'>Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh</a>
Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh

LB418, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh, prohibits collection of a debt incurred for treatment of a work-related injury while the matter is pending in the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court.

Under the bill, written notice that the matter is pending will be provided to collection agencies seeking to collect on a debt. A second notice will be sent within 30 days of the initial notice, including specific details of the debt.

The state attorney general is authorized to investigate collection agencies that do not comply with the bill’s provisions.

The measure includes provisions of LB360, originally sponsored by Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen. These allow the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court to appoint a power of attorney for a claim, settlement or disbursement of money for nonresident alien dependents if the court believes the dependents are better served by someone other than the consular officer of their resident country, or if no consular officer exists.

Provisions of LB178, sponsored by Lincoln Sen. Mike Hilgers, also are included in the bill. These update and change references to the state Department of Administrative Services’ risk manager and make changes to allow for a more efficient claims process.

LB418 passed on a 35-0 vote.

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