Senators addressing medical debt


NASHUA – U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., is joining several Senate colleagues to introduce the Medical Debt Relief Act, which she said should assist those who incur large and/or unforeseen health care expenses.

Hassan said the legislation would prevent medical debt from continuing to damage consumers’ credit scores after it has been paid off or settled, ensuring those who are otherwise worthy of credit are able to find affordable credit to buy a home or a car or take out a loan.

“Americans who become sick or get injured should not have to worry about how this unforeseen hardship will damage their credit scores and potentially impact their ability to buy a house or take out a loan,” Hassan said. “This common sense legislation will help ease the burden for consumers whose medical debt has crippled their ability to invest, purchase consumer goods, and contribute to our economy. I will keep fighting to lower health care costs and to ensure that all hard-working Granite Staters and Americans have the support they need to get ahead and stay ahead.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that 43 million American consumers have overdue medical debt on their credit reports, and that 15 million have only medical debt on their credit reports. Many consumers mistakenly believe that unpaid medical bills have no influence over one’s credit score. However, once a debt is assigned to collections, even if the cause was an inefficient health care billing system, the account will be considered a derogatory account by credit scoring algorithms.

According to the text of the act, it would institute a 180-day waiting period before the medical debt would appear on someone’s credit report. It would also allow debts that have been paid to be removed from the report.

In order for this legislation to take effect, it would have to pass both the Senate and the House, as well as receive a signature from President Donald Trump.

Joining Hassan to introduce the legislation are these Democratic U.S. Sens.: Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Dianne Feinstein of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Richard Durbin of Illinois and Robert Menendez of New Jersey.