For Immediate Release: Friday, July 7, 2023

Contact: Jack Cardinal, (781) 960-5208, 

For more than 15 years, Community Catalyst has been leading the fight to eliminate medical debt in the United States. Emily Stewart, executive director of Community Catalyst, released the following statement on the Biden administration’s announcement today that it plans to address the predatory nature of medical billing and high interest loans, including the promotion of deferred interest credit cards in medical settings. 

“Today’s announcement is an important step to rein in the unconscionable practice of promoting medical credit cards with deferred interest and murky terms and conditions. Far too many people recovering from surgeries and other conditions have frankly been tricked into these cards – and the actions today are welcome.

“Medical debt is a uniquely American problem and we are pleased that the Biden administration is responding to the crisis. It’s essential that the Biden administration continues to build on today’s actions, as much more must be done to protect millions of people from medical debt. 

“The underlying issue of medical debt is simple: health care is inadequate and far too expensive. The health care system has been dominated by corporate interests that put profit over people. This is unfair, widespread, and deepens inequity across our country. 

Four in ten adults have some kind of medical debt in this country, and the burden is disproportionately carried by those that already face barriers to coverage and care due to systemic racism and other forms of oppression. 

“Actions by the Biden administration are an important step in the right direction. We have heard from people in all 50 states and Washington DC that have personally been impacted by medical debt. 

“Everyone deserves access to the health care they want and need without going into debt. But for far too many people in America, many of whom are living paycheck to paycheck, the difference between health and debt is just a doctor or dentist appointment away. 

“We urge the Biden Administration to build off of today’s announcement and do more to address this growing medical debt crisis in our country. Nobody should be forced to make the impossible choice between getting health care and going into debt.”

Earlier this month, Community Catalyst kicked off its “freedom from medical debt,” campaign. The campaign kicked off with a six figure digital ad campaign. You can watch the digital ads here:

Nearly 3,000 people from all 50 states and Washington, DC sent their stories to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) urging for rulemaking to prohibit the promotion of predatory medical credit cards in health care settings, as well as urging for the agency to prevent medical debt from impacting credit scores

  • “I am a public school teacher, a single mom, disabled, with a disabled son. Medical debt is a very real part of our everyday life. It makes life a struggle. It makes me worry more and enjoy less. It is keeping us from buying a home, stuck in the cycle of renting a home. I give back to the community and work hard every day. I love my country. I love my students. I love my little family, my son with autism has weekly therapy. We do what we can do. Medical debt is disabling.” – Meghan
  • “I was lured in with a promise of six months interest free. After I paid for my emergency dental surgery with Care Credit, I was informed that I didn’t actually qualify for the interest free deal. I wound up paying twice what the surgery actually cost.” – Michele 
  • “I have crippling medical debt, I’m afraid to go to the doctor for basic care because I just can’t afford it. I can’t rent an apartment because it impacts my credit score, which impacts my mental health and in turn causes more health issues.” – Ashley
  • “I spent years trapped in medical debt because of one of these [deferred interest] cards…. I had no idea what my other options were, only that the medical office told me this card was the best option, so I believed it. It WAS predatory. And it stopped me from contributing to other areas of the economy. I couldn’t buy a car, go out to dinner, or purchase other non-necessity items because all my money was going toward that card. I had no idea what kind of hole I was getting myself into. If our medical system requires going into this kind of debt then our medical system is broken. And something needs to change.” – Sarah  
  • “I was recently diagnosed with a rare connective tissue autoimmune disease very shortly after ‘recovering’ from two back-to-back COVID infections, despite having three vaccinations. This country did not do enough to protect me from COVID and now I suffer the health and economic consequences of being catapulted into a serious chronic illness that I cannot afford. Treatments are expensive and frequent, and change. They cause other health issues. I hit my out-of-pocket max …  and am now in thousands of medical debt on top of student debt,  on top of credit card debt from the pandemic. I’m 38 years old. There’s no way out.” – Annie

The campaign will culminate in September when people burdened by medical debt will come to Washington to demand more action from Congress and the Biden Administration. 


About Community Catalyst

Community Catalyst is a leading non-profit national health advocacy organization dedicated to advancing a movement for race equity and health justice. We partner with local, state and national advocates to leverage and build power so all people can influence decisions that affect their health. Health systems will not be accountable to people without a fully engaged and organized community voice. That’s why we work every day to ensure people’s interests are represented wherever important decisions about health and health care are made: in communities, state houses and on Capitol Hill. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter @CommCatHealth.