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Despite regular, agreed-upon payments, Utah Hospital plans to seize patient's tax refund

Despite regular, agreed-upon payments, Utah Hospital plans to seize patient's tax refund (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) When Shannon “Scooby” Saunders and her husband decided on one more kid, they weren't expecting One. More. Kid.

"Then it was twins again, surprise!" she said.

Again! That’s right, it’s her second set of twins. Twins mean twice the clothes, diapers, cribs, food and everything else – including costs.

"We had money set aside for one. Two comes up with a little extra cost," she said.

While Scooby was pregnant, she was referred to the University of Utah's maternal fetal medicine department for high risk pregnancy. Everything went fine with the test, but she told the hospital she wouldn't be able to pay the entire bill right away.

She says the hospital told her not to worry.

"We set up a payment plan,” she said. “We've been making payments."

Every single month, she makes the agreed-upon $220 payment. That's why she says she was shocked when she got this letter in the mail from the hospital warning her that it was preparing to seize her Utah state tax return.

"They said, well, we don't care that you're making payments. If we can get the money faster by putting a lien on your refund, we're going to do that anyway," she said.

Scooby says her family counts on that annual return for things like groceries and to pay other bills.

University of Utah health care's spokesman refused to talk to Get Gephardt on camera but in a statement confirmed they will be taking her tax refund if she gets one.

The spokesperson wrote that Scooby should have seen this coming because "before even enrolling in a payment plan" she was told that any "balance past due 90 days or greater" would be subject to a tax lien.

That she's been making on time payments is irrelevant.

Scooby says that after calls from Get Gephardt to the hospital, the billing department contacted her and told her some of the outstanding interest costs would be waived.

But as far as letting her just continue to make payments, she says she was told, “basically, sucks to be you."

The University of Utah hospital is a state hospital and this is one of the legal tools at their disposal. If a patient owes them money and that patient has Utah state tax return coming, the hospital can seize that money.

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