The Virginia General Assembly is considering three bills that could have a significant impact on the lives of millions of Americans who struggle with medical debt, live in mobile home parks, or face the risk of data breaches. These bills aim to provide more protection and relief for these vulnerable groups, who often face discrimination, exploitation, and financial hardship.
Medical Debt Collection Reform
Medical debt is a leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States, affecting about 40 percent of adults, or 100 million people. Many of these people are women, people of color, and low-income families, who face higher health care costs and lower access to insurance and financial assistance.
To address this issue, Delegate Ibraheem Samirah has introduced House Bill 1915, which would prohibit medical debt collection after three years from the date of service, instead of the current six-year statute of limitations. The bill would also require health care providers to offer financial assistance to patients who are uninsured or have incomes below 400 percent of the federal poverty level, and to inform them of their rights and options before sending their bills to collections.
The bill would help prevent medical debt from ruining the credit scores and financial stability of millions of Americans, who often face aggressive and abusive collection practices, such as wage garnishment, property liens, and lawsuits. The bill would also ensure that nonprofit hospitals are earning their tax exemption by providing adequate charity care to their communities.
Mobile Home Park Tenant Rights
Mobile home parks are a source of affordable housing for many low-income and elderly residents, who often own their mobile homes but rent the land under them. However, these residents also face many challenges, such as poor maintenance, unsafe conditions, and unfair evictions.
To protect these residents, Senator Jennifer Boysko has introduced Senate Bill 1148, which would grant more rights and remedies to mobile home park tenants. The bill would require mobile home park owners to:
- provide written leases that include the rent, fees, and rules of the park
- give at least 60 days’ notice before raising the rent or changing the rules
- maintain the common areas and utilities of the park in good and safe condition
- provide a written notice of any violations or breaches of the lease and an opportunity to cure them before terminating the lease
- give at least 180 days’ notice before closing or converting the park and offer relocation assistance to the tenants
The bill would help prevent mobile home park owners from taking advantage of their tenants, who often have limited options and resources to relocate or challenge the owners’ actions. The bill would also promote the preservation and improvement of mobile home parks as a vital source of affordable housing in Virginia.
State Data Breach Notification
Data breaches are a growing threat to the privacy and security of millions of Americans, who entrust their personal and financial information to various entities, such as businesses, government agencies, and nonprofits. However, these entities are not always transparent or accountable when their data is compromised or exposed.
To address this issue, Delegate Cliff Hayes has introduced House Bill 2134, which would update and expand the state’s data breach notification law. The bill would require any entity that owns or licenses computerized data that includes personal information of Virginia residents to:
- notify the Attorney General and the affected residents of any breach of the security of the system within 45 days after the discovery of the breach
- provide information about the nature and scope of the breach, the actions taken to restore the security of the system, and the contact information of the entity
- offer free credit monitoring or identity theft protection services to the affected residents for at least 12 months if the breach involved their social security number or driver’s license number
The bill would help protect the identity and credit of millions of Virginians, who often face the risk of fraud, identity theft, and financial loss as a result of data breaches. The bill would also encourage the entities that handle their data to adopt better security measures and practices to prevent and respond to data breaches.