IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Idaho Falls businessman Frank VanderSloot and his wife Belinda have announced a second $500,000 donation to help Idaho citizens defend themselves from overly aggressive medical debt collectors.
The VanderSloots originated a consumer protection fund called Idaho Medical Debt (IMD) last April with their first $500,000 donation.
The fund was established to help people who had been charged excessive attorney fees during the collection process. VanderSloot emphasized that the fund will not prevent doctors or hospitals from being paid in full.
"We want to make clear that doctors and hospitals deserve to be paid for their services," Frank said. "Doctors and hospitals have the right and the need to collect for services rendered. We will not be helping people avoid paying legitimate bills. But we are defending people from unscrupulous, unreasonable, or unnecessary attorney fees."
Since April, fund attorneys said they had been contacted by over 483 individuals and provided hundreds of consultations. IMD has agreed to legally defend 140 families from what they call unscrupulous collection tactics and unreasonable attorney fees.
The large number of people seeking help prompted the VanderSloots to add another half-million dollars to their donation.
According to a news release, the fund said almost all of its cases involve Medical Recovery Services (MRS), an Idaho Falls-based collection agency specializing in medical debt and employs the firm of Smith, Driscoll and Associates, which is owned and operated by the same people who own MRS.
Mark Harris, a spokesman for Medical Recovery Services, said, ""This is more laughable nonsense from Frank VanderSloot. After $500,000 in attorneys fees, his team has won no cases and every single charge he has made here is demonstrably false. Frank's personal vendetta is both irrational and false. Medical Recovery Services has always operated at the highest level of ethical behavior. We've been open and transparent about how we operate."
The Idaho Medical Debt fund said it believes many of the company's collection practices are illegal. And, VanderSloot said his attorneys have been working on draft legislation that would protect Idahoans from unscrupulous medical debt collection practices. He said he would present that to lawmakers next week.