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State temporarily halts wage garnishing for UK medical bills. It should be a permanent stop.

Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration says it has stopped a harmful and possibly unlawful practice of garnishing the wages of thousands of low-income Kentuckians with tardy medical bills from University of Kentucky HealthCare. Jill Midkiff, spokeswoman for the Finance and Administration Cabinet said that in mid-March, the Department of Revenue had released levies on wages accrued from debt at UK. A 2004 law expanded the revenue department’s collection powers, allowing UK HealthCare to use the department as a collection agency. Only, unlike collection agencies, Revenue does not have to get a court judgment to begin garnishing wages before property liens and other governmental maneuvers can be applied. The department also adds 25 percent as a collection fee. The practice should have been suspended two years ago, when it became the subject of two different lawsuits.