Last week, the Biden-Harris administration announced a proposed rule that will prevent all medical debt from impacting credit scores, which affects people regardless of their insurance status. This is a major win for people. Unlike other forms of debt, medical debt is not a predictive measure of creditworthiness, and no one should have to make the choice between preserving their health or taking on medical debt. Medical debt is not something anyone can plan for.  And, importantly, this rule will also include the removal of debt related to dental care, which is a driver of medical debt since most people do not have dental insurance coverage.

  • Following the announcement, Vice President Harris traveled to North Carolina to promote the new action. A demonstrated major commitment by the Biden administration to promote the proposed rule.  
  • When HIT Strategies asked largely insured people about this exact policy during some recent polling, they found that 75% of voters support removing medical debt from credit reports – and 66% of voters say they would feel more favorable towards a policymaker that supports these efforts.
  • Following the announcement that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)would move to eliminate medical debt from credit reports, the Biden administration released a fact sheet highlighting additional scrutiny the IRS will give to non-profit hospitals to ensure they’re meeting their community benefit obligations. 
  • The fact sheet also urged states and municipalities to take more actions to ensure non-profit hospitals are screening patients for charity care and limiting aggressive debt collection practices.
  • And, it didn’t end there. Earlier this week, the CFPB released additional information about the harm caused by predatory deferred interest credit cards, which are promoted without oversight in medical and dental settings. Community Catalyst and partners are urging for additional action, which is supported by 61% of voters who say they support this proposal, with 36% saying they strongly support it.  

The announcement came on the heels of Community Catalyst and partners joining the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for a roundtable discussion in Washington, D.C. on this topic; and follows a yearslong campaign by Community Catalyst and more than 70 cross-movement local, state and national partners urging for more aggressive action to address the medical debt crisis in America. 

While the actions taken by the Biden administration are good and important, there is still more policymakers can and should do to make progress on key health and economic justice policy priorities.

  • 83% of voters say they support proposals to make dental care part of the basic package of benefits all insurance companies must cover, known as Essential Health Benefits coverage, with 62% saying they strongly support it. Of those who say they are struggling to afford insurance and health care costs, over half (56%) report having delayed or foregone dental care services due to its cost, highlighting dental care as a problematic area when it comes to affordability.  
  • 72% of voters favor obligating hospitals to directly inform patients of their payment options, including financial assistance. 
  • 71% of voters favor prohibiting hospitals from billing and collection practices that can lead to home foreclosures and bank account seizures.
  • 69% favor prohibiting hospitals from delaying or denying medically necessary care for patients that have not yet paid past medical bills. 
  • 61% of voters say they support proposals to prohibit the promotion of deferred interest credit cards in medical and dental settings, with 36% saying they strongly support it.  

Medical debt impacts more than 100 million people in the United States that’s 4 in 10 adults and includes people with health insurance. But importantly, it doesn’t impact everyone the same. 

Because of structural racism, classism and other forms of oppression, people with low-incomes as well as Black and Latinx communities bear the brunt of the health and economic costs. It is critical that policymakers continue to heed their demands to put people over profit.

Indeed, voters want policymakers across both aisles to take bolder action to make health care more affordable and equitable. 

  • 71% say it needs major change or be completely rebuilt. This includes 74% of Democrats, 75% of Independents, and 66% of Republicans. 
  • Majority support persists across demographics and political ideologies, highlighting medical debt and hospital accountability as uniting issues.

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