The month-long “freedom from medical debt” campaign kicks off this week with a six-figure ad campaign; activists heading to DC to demand action


June 8, 2023

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

BOSTON – Community Catalyst is doubling down on its medical debt relief campaign to demand the Biden administration do more to bring relief to the millions of people that are suffering from medical debt. The campaign is kicking off a six-figure “freedom from medical debt,” ad campaign and will culminate with an event in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, July 11 with people burdened by medical debt calling for action from top officials in the Biden administration. 

You can watch the digital ads here: 

No one should have to exhaust their life savings or retirement accounts, or lose their housing because they get sick. But in the United States, four in ten adults hold some form of medical debt, often forcing them to cut back on basic needs. The driver behind medical debt is simple: there aren’t enough protections in place for people. The burden is disproportionately carried by adults without insurance, women, Black and Hispanic adults, parents, immigrants, and those with lower incomes.

Statement from Emily Stewart, Executive Director, Community Catalyst:

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

“The freedom from medical debt campaign is the culmination of a decade-long effort by Community Catalyst and our partners to shape policy solutions that address the root causes of medical debt. This includes shining a light on the role that health systems have played in deepening inequity, including through shady medical credit card schemes, the misuse of community benefit dollars, and more. 

“Families across the country are living paycheck to paycheck and unable to afford basic necessities, while many health insurance companies and hospitals are raking in record profits. We need this country to put people over profits and we urge the Biden administration to take the steps to protect millions of people from incurring more medical debt.”

The Biden administration can and must do more to strengthen medical debt protections, eliminate aggressive debt collection practices, and hold health systems accountable to fair prices and billing practices. Backed by a coalition of more than 60 organizations – representing civil and human rights, economic fairness, and health justice – Community Catalyst is petitioning the Biden administration to enact policies that better protect people against medical debt and the consequences it has on their health and economic wellbeing.

In March, Community Catalyst led a coalition which sent two letters – one to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Department of Treasury, and another to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – with specific executive actions the administration can take. 

Comments are also being collected and sent directly to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) by June 12: 

Discriminatory barriers to economic security and insurance coverage mean that medical debt disproportionately harms individuals who are Black, Indigenous, people of color, and other historically excluded populations – with nearly 27 percent of Black households and just under 19 percent of Hispanic families holding medical debt.

Additionally, households with low incomes are disproportionately at risk for incurring medical debt – those with income of less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level are more likely to have problems paying medical bills. Families with children are far more likely to have medical debt than those without, while families in which a member has a disability are nearly twice as likely to have medical debt as those without. 


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.