Washington AG Secures Judgment Against Debt Collection Agency over Medical Debt Practices

  • Washington AG Bob Ferguson has secured a court order imposing civil penalties on Optimum Outcomes, Inc. for the debt collection agency’s alleged failure to comply with the state’s Consumer Protection Act when it collected medical debt payments from consumers without including legally mandated disclosures in its communications.
  • According to the AG’s office, Optimum Outcomes entered into a collection services agreement with Providence Health & Services Washington and affiliated entities (collectively, “Providence”), a nonprofit health organization, for collecting medical debts from Providence’s patients within Washington state. The trial court found that, in connection to its agreement with Providence, Optimum Outcomes sent over 82,000 debt collection notices to medical debtors without the legally required disclosures, including information about debtors’ rights, eligibility for charity care, and contact details for the hospital.
  • The court concluded that Optimum Outcomes was responsible for 82,729 violations of the Consumer Protection Act, one for each notice sent without proper disclosures, resulting in a civil penalty of $10 per violation, totaling $827,290. Optimum Outcomes is also required to pay the legal costs incurred by the AG’s Office and implement reforms to ensure that its collection notices include the necessary disclosures required under Washington law.
  • The court’s ruling follows a settlement reached earlier this year between the Washington AG’s office and Providence, which related to similar allegations. Additional details about Washington’s settlement with Providence have been discussed in prior coverage.