CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The University of Virginia Health System is making some changes to its billing and collection policies. This comes days after a Washington Post article that revealed UVA sued more than 6,000 patients a year for unpaid medical bills. Many of them are low-income and unable to pay.

“My experience is that UVA Medical Center is much more aggressive in collecting, has a much higher threshold of minimum payment than other people, and is much less likely to write off the debt,” said bankruptcy attorney Marshall Slayton. “I've seen probably seen 10-15 potential new clients this week, right? People coming in to see me, half of them have medical bills with UVA.”

Friday, UVA Health System announced a slew of changes to its debt collection process, based on a person's income above or below the federal poverty line. One of the most notable changes is that it will now entirely write-off bills for patients at or below the poverty level who have less than $50,000 in assets. Previously, they only received 20% discount.

UVA has also increased its discounts for patients making two, three and four times above the poverty line. It has also raised its threshold for filing a suit for unpaid bills exceeding $1,000.

“This is not the end of the steps we're going take to try to improve this. This is the beginning, and this is kind of a first step. We think it's a substantial first step, but it's a first step, and we're going to look at you know what else is possible,” UVA Medical Center Spokesperson Eric Swensen said.

“I think that it needs constant review and adjustment, because values of property and income change and so this is not something that's a stagnant you just leave it, set it, and forget it,” said Slayton.

The University of Virginia Health System looked at other hospitals in the area to create the new benchmarks, including Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital and Augusta Health.

“It's hard to go back after the fact once people have made payments. So unfortunately I don't know how much can really be done for them, but again what we're pledging to do moving forward is just try to do this again in a fairer and more equitable to serve all the patients that we see,” Swensen said.

The new policies will apply to both uninsured and insured patients. The adjustments to the billing system are set to go into effect January 1, 2020.

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