Protecting Patients from High Medical Debt
Congresswoman Katie Porter and Senator Jeff Merkley Introduce Legislation to Protect Patients
Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-CA) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) have joined forces to reintroduce bicameral legislation aimed at safeguarding patients from the long-term financial burdens caused by high healthcare costs. It is a well-known fact that medical debt, despite being an unreliable indicator of creditworthiness, appears on the credit reports of millions of American households. To address this issue, the proposed Medical Debt Relief Act seeks to completely ban medical debt from appearing on credit reports and prevent creditors from considering medical debt when making decisions about extending credit to individuals.
Protecting Families from Financial Hardship
Representative Porter, a former consumer law professor, emphasizes the importance of ensuring that medical treatment does not lead to a lifetime of financial hardship for families. She argues that under the current system, unexpected and life-saving healthcare costs can burden Americans with debt and severely damage their credit scores. The bill co-sponsored by Senator Merkley aims to prohibit credit bureaus from reporting medical debt, making it easier for individuals struggling with medical bills to rent apartments, buy homes, or obtain loans.
A Call to Fix the Flawed Reporting Process
Senator Merkley expresses his outrage at the fact that even when medical debt is inaccurately reported, it can still have devastating consequences on a family’s credit and financial future. He believes that the current reporting process for medical debt unfairly adds to the struggles of families as they try to recover from their financial difficulties. According to him, it is long overdue that this flawed system is rectified.
Congressional Support for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
After years of advocacy by Representative Porter for protections against medical debt, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) initiated a process to prevent medical debt from appearing on credit reports or being used in credit decisions. The proposed legislation demonstrates Congress’ support for the CFPB to use its existing authority to establish these principles as federal regulations, thereby solidifying them into law.
Wide Support from Advocacy Organizations
Various organizations, including the National Consumer Law Center, Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund, Appleseed Foundation, and many others, back Congresswoman Porter’s legislation. These organizations represent low-income clients, consumers, and advocacy groups that champion consumer rights in different sectors.
A Champion for Consumer Protection
As a former law professor and consumer advocate, Congresswoman Porter has consistently fought for consumer protection in Congress. She has taken on big pharmaceutical companies by introducing the Freedom From Price Gouging Act, which prevents these companies from profiting off unreasonable price hikes. This legislation was successfully signed into law as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. In addition, she has hosted roundtable discussions with consumer protection organizations to address issues such as eliminating junk fees and deceptive advertising.
Read More of this Story at porter.house.gov – 2023-10-20 14:20:42
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