March 6, 2024 

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

Community Catalyst To Run TV Ads Around The State of the Union Highlighting The Need For Biden And Policymakers To Take Action On Medical Debt

Ads to run on MSNBC before and after President’s speech feature real people impacted by medical debt; Urge Biden Administration and Congress to act 

Thursday night, before and after the President’s State of the Union address, Community Catalyst will be running television ads urging policymakers in Washington to take action on medical debt. 

The ads, which feature real people impacted by medical debt, will air on MSNBC. 

You can see the ads here:



“We believe it is important to use the State of the Union to highlight this issue and call for further action because nobody should have to make the impossible decision between life and debt,” said Community Catalyst Executive Director Emily Stewart. “But that’s the reality for far too many of us. The Biden administration has done more to address medical debt than any administration prior and we are grateful for that. But there is more they can and should do. It’s time the Biden administration used all the tools in its toolbox to address the medical debt crisis. Taking on this issue will further the administration’s commitment to advance health equity while simultaneously helping address the rising costs of health care individuals are facing.”

The first ad features Sherrell from Georgia who talks about how when she had a medical issue she had to focus more on cost than care. She is speaking out so others don’t have the same experience. You can learn more about Sherrell and her story here.

The second ad features Aracely from Illinois who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018, and underwent a double mastectomy. It was difficult to keep up with the bills, but she managed. Three years later, while in remission, Aracely became pregnant with her second child. She had a baby boy in June 2021. Then she learned that the cancer had returned. Even with health insurance covering some of her costs, it was scary for Aracely to see so many “zeros” on each bill, representing thousands of dollars in medical expenses. You can learn more about Aracely and her story here. 

Medical debt impacts nearly 100 million people in America. That’s 4 in 10 adults who have medical and dental bills they cannot pay. This includes nearly 11 million people who owe more than $2,000 and 3 million people who owe more than $10,000. And, while medical debt can impact anyone, including people with insurance, the reality is that it doesn’t impact everyone the same. Black adults (16 percent) report a disproportionate amount of medical debt compared to white adults (9 percent) — and states that have blocked Medicaid expansion continue to have higher rates of medical debt. It is a growing crisis that is impacting people in red states and blue states. In urban areas and in rural areas. 

The Biden administration clearly understands the importance of addressing this issue. Since taking office, they have taken important steps to address the issue.  But there is more they can and should do to address the medical debt crisis on the scale that is needed. 

Specifically, the Biden administration should:

  • Bolster hospital financial assistance policies to prevent people from incurring medical debt in the first place.
  • Regulate excessive charges from non-profit hospitals who are obligated to provide charity care or financial assistance to patients in exchange for their tax-exempt status.
  • Protect people from harsh billing and collection practices like foreclosures, wage garnishment, and bank account seizures.
  • Prevent non-profit hospitals from denying care to individuals with medical debt.
  • Strengthen enforcement of regulations to ensure non-profit hospitals are providing sufficient community benefits, and making reasonable efforts to determine whether individuals are eligible for financial assistance prior to initiating extraordinary collection actions.
  • Prohibit all medical debt from showing up on credit reports by enhancing protections in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). 
  • Eliminate the promotion of predatory deferred interest credit cards in medical settings, such as doctors and dental offices, as well as hospitals. 
  • Undertake aggressive enforcement against unfair, deceptive, and abusive hospital practices which can prevent debt from being waived or forgiven by hospital policies.

For more on Community Catalyst work on medical debt:

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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.