ongressional investigations may be coming none too soon on revelations about predatory billing by big hospitals and hospital chains against patients for costly care they received after they were hurt in vehicle wrecks.

The New York Times reported that its investigations showed that patients, especially the poor and vulnerable, too often have gotten ripped off on treatments that their health insurance could have covered when they were involved in car crashes. Instead, hospitals and hospital chains seek to maximize profits — and purportedly to protect themselves against financial losses — by making legal claims against wreck victims and their finances.

The claims, permitted under centuries-old practices, are called liens. They are a legal “claim on an asset, such as a home or a settlement payment, to make sure someone repays a debt,” the New York Times reported.