“More must be done to address the medical debt crisis in America and ensure all people — across identities — have health and economic freedom”
Emily Stewart, executive director


March 23, 2023  

CONTACT: Jack Cardinal, (781) 960-5208, jcardinal@communitycatalyst.org 

(BOSTON, MA) – Today, President Biden released his administration’s FY2024 budget proposal which makes meaningful investments in improving individual and community health, especially for communities that have been ignored for far too long and been unfairly excluded from health programs. But more must be done to provide people with relief, with more than 60 groups urging for executive action on medical debt that is sensible, community informed and doable.  

Statement from Emily Stewart, executive director of Community Catalyst 

“We appreciate the policies outlined in the president’s budget to improve access to care and address some of the persistent and structural inequities that have created a health system that is profit driven at the expense of people, families and communities. 

“Several proposals in the president’s budget would improve the state of coverage and care in our country for people that have been unfairly excluded. It begins to scratch the surface on the systemic changes needed to ensure health care is a right, not a privilege.  

“We are encouraged by this progress, but more must be done to address the medical debt crisis in America and ensure all people – across identities – have health and economic freedom.”  

In the weeks and months ahead, Community Catalyst and partners will keep telling the story of how medical debt harms people, organizing med debt petitions and events for people impacted by it, pushing for face-to-face meetings with people in the administration who care deeply about this issue and have the power to help, and more. 

Additional Background on the Budget 

Community Catalyst is encouraged by the administration’s focus on advancing health equity, but more is needed to create a health system that puts people over profit, addresses structural racism and other inequalities, and is responsive and accountable to people.  

  • Establishing a federal insurance option to close the coverage gap for people living in states that have not expanded Medicaid and requiring expanded access to postpartum Medicaid coverage is good policy, and would enable more equitable health outcomes for millions of people and new parents to build healthier and more prosperous lives for themselves and their families. But health coverage is only worthwhile if people can afford to use it and are able to shape the ways health systems deliver care that is reflective of community wants and needs.  
  • Making the ACA marketplace premium tax credits permanent, making adult vaccines free, and requiring dental, vision and hearing to be covered by Medicare and Medicaid are all important steps towards improving the affordability of health care. Community Catalyst would further like to see the dental, vision and hearing benefits included in all Marketplace plans, which are a significant driver of medical debt. 
  • We believe that investments in home and community-based services and health care workforce must also be paired with meaningful investments in community-based organizations as public health agents, recognizing that community members are central to the public health ecosystem, and investments in initiatives that ensure the public health workforce represents and is trusted by communities.  
  • More stable funding for the Indian Health Service along with expansion of affordable health coverage will be of particular benefit to Tribal communities as well as Black, Latinx and other people who have been historically and systematical excluded from good health and economic opportunity. 

All of these proposals are grounded in creating a more equitable health system, and the impending unwinding of the Public Health Emergency makes these issues even more urgent. Community Catalyst looks forward to supporting these and other health justice policy that is sensible, community-informed, and doable. 

If you are interested in speaking with someone on the Community Catalyst policy and advocacy team about the president’s budget or the growing campaign to address the debt crisis in America, please contact Jack Cardinal, (781) 960-5208, jcardinal@communitycatalyst.org


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 http://www.communitycatalyst.org. Follow us on Twitter @CommCatHealth.