A bill moving through the legislature could decide whether a Wisconsin company stays in Wisconsin. Currently, health care billing companies are regulated by the Division of Banking in the Department of Financial Institutions. This bill creates an exemption for Dominion Medical Management, although during recent debate on the legislation, state Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee) argued Dominion is a collection agency. “Make no mistake about it, that’s what they do,” Erpenbach said. “They go after debt in the health care arena.”

But Bob Kebbekus, President of the Milwaukee area company, said that’s NOT what Dominion does – which is to provide billing services for doctor’s offices. “A collection agency is completely different that what a billing company does,” said Kebbekus. “We cannot file suit, we cannot submit to a credit bureau. We cannot do any of that as an extension of a physician’s office.”

The bill creates an exception from the definition of “collection agency” for health care billing companies like Dominion. Kebbekus said he was surprised that eight Senators voted against the bill. “Maybe it wouldn’t happen, but there is some fear that sometimes these billing agencies or collection agencies start harassing or being very aggressive in trying to get their bills paid,” said state Senator Judy Robson (D-Beloit). “I get a little bit concerned when we have deregulated an area that may in fact be protecting consumers.”

Kebbekus said what his company does for doctors doesn’t make it a collection agency, although it meets the definition laid out by DFI. “Just because we took the checks, and the checks are made out in the physician’s name, and we deposit them into the physician’s account . . .that in and of itself makes us a collector under the definition.” Kebbekus said he hopes to keep Dominion and its fifty jobs in Wisconsin, and to expand employment here, but that decision may depend on the fate of the legislation. The bill (SB 286) is currently available for consideration by the Assembly.

Bob Hague reports (1:10 MP3) AUDIO: Bob Hague reports (1:10 MP3)

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