October 2001 MedBytes: Bankruptcy

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When it comes to bankruptcy, the Internet is chock-full of information, especially if you're looking for a law firm. Unfortunately, the cyber-pickings are rather slim for small business owners, such as physicians, who want to learn what they can do when one of their largest accounts receivable has just filed for bankruptcy protection.

American Medical Association
The best place to start is the American Medical Association's Bankruptcies in Healthcare: A Physician's Guide . This 116-page PDF document is available on the AMA Web site. It reviews the contractual, legal, and financial implications for physicians when a hospital, independent practice association, management services organization, practice management company, physician-hospital organization, or health maintenance organization declares bankruptcy. It offers suggestions on how to minimize the patient care impact of bankruptcies -- including steps practices should consider when signing a contract.

Federal Court
Each of Texas' four federal district bankruptcy courts maintains an Internet presence. Although much of the information is intended for attorneys who routinely practice before those courts, casual visitors can also view past orders, case schedules, and information about the judges who handle those cases. The Web addresses for the bankruptcy courts are:

American Bankruptcy Institute
The American Bankruptcy Institute calls its "ABIWorld" at www.abiworld.org the "premier site for bankruptcy information on the Web." Along with daily legislative and judicial news from the bankruptcy arena, ABIWorld offers a searchable index of bankruptcy judgments, background information on credit and debt, and extensive statistics on U.S. bankruptcy filings. One of the most interesting areas is an interactive newsletter, where experts post articles on specific bankruptcy law topics, and other experts chime in to support, criticize, or defend the original authors.

LAWDOG Center 
The LAWDOG Center includes legal information on bankruptcy, debt collection, and credit reporting. Physicians with large and growing accounts receivable might find some useful materials in the debt collection section, which includes information on consumer and commercial debts, collection agencies, and legal resources.

Moran Law Group
The Moran Law Group of California maintains an easy-to-understand description of creditors' rights at www.moranlaw.net . Click on the "Creditor rights" button. It explains the basic bankruptcy court proceedings, provides sample "proof of claim" forms, and tells you when you need to consider hiring an attorney to represent you as a creditor.

On the TMA Web site
The Texas Medical Association has created a wealth of user interactions and resources to assist physicians and their staff. Our "Practice Management Toolbox" is in depth, yet user friendly. Look for the toolbox graphic on the TMA home page at www.texmed.org . Check out the latest addition to the toolbox, the "TMA Billing and Collections Yellow Pages." This alphabetical index lists contact numbers, e-mails, Web sites, fax lines, and even snail mail addresses for all the health plans, government agencies, vendors, and advocacy groups you might need to get paid for the services your practice provides.

MedBytes is a quick look at new, or newly discovered, Web sites of interest to Texas physicians. The column also highlights features of the TMA Web site at www.texmed.org . If you know of some cool medical sites or have questions about how to use the TMA Web site, email  Erin Prather. Publication of information about Web sites in this column is not to be considered an endorsement or approval by the Texas Medical Association of the sites or sponsors, or of any products or services involved.  

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