Consumer Advocates Call for Pandemic Debt Relief

Advocates with the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) are calling on the Biden Administration to enact debt relief policies within the first 100 days of taking office.

The NCLC is specifically targeting medical debt, noting:

“Medical debt harms tens of millions of consumers, with nearly 1 in 6 Americans contacted by a debt collector over a healthcare bill, and 21% of residents in mainly nonwhite zip codes with at least one medical debt in collection on their credit reports. Medical debt is a contributing cause to more than half of all consumer bankruptcies filed. During the COVID-19 crisis, access to medical treatment is crucial to protecting public health. Lack of health insurance, lack of financial resources, and fear of more medical debt should not discourage individuals from seeking testing and treatment.”

The organization and advocates who support it are asking the incoming Administration to cancel medical debt owed by civilians and service members to military hospitals and federal health care providers. Additionally, they are asking for measures to halt lawsuits, wage garnishments, and medical debt credit reporting during the pandemic.

Finally, NCLC seeks cancellation of medical debt incurred during the pandemic by creation of a special federal fund for that purpose.

Medical debt is crippling for many Americans, with 32% reporting some form of medical debt. Over half of those with medical debt on their credit report — meaning it has gone to collections — have defaulted on it.

It’s not yet clear whether the Biden Administration will move forward with some or all of the recommendations provided by NCLC.

For more on news impacting consumers, follow @TheAndySpears

A past due medical bill

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN

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