April 03, 2020

Congressman Joe Neguse Introduces Legislation to Prohibit Debt Reporting From COVID–19 Medical Procedures

Washington D.C.—Today, Congressman Joe Neguse introduced new legislation to prohibit reporting of medically necessary procedures related to the COVID-19 outbreak. The bill would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to ban debt from medically necessary procedures resulting from COVID–19 from being included on credit reports.

“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are facing unexpected healthcare needs and economic burdens at astounding levels,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “Ensuring that debt from coronavirus treatments are not reported is another way we can provide relief for Americans everywhere as they deal with his public health emergency.” 

“The current public health emergency is also bringing economic challenges for Coloradans,” said  Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. “For those who may end up saddled with medical bills during the COVID19 crisis, we need to develop strategies for supporting them and protecting them during a period of economic distress.  For starters, let’s make sure that any medical bills incurred during this public health emergency are not held against people and their future economic opportunities,”  

“The high cost of health care affects nearly all of us,” said Adela Flores-Brennan, Executive Director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “At the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, we regularly work with consumers who are facing significant financial strain as a result of medical debt. There’s no doubt people who are affected by COVID-19 will experience expensive and unexpected medical bills as a result of their treatment. We applaud Congressman Neguse’s effort to protect those consumers from predatory debt practices. With the public health and economic crisis that has been brought about by COVID-19, now is not the time to further burden consumers.” 

“Among comparably wealthy nations, only the broken U.S. healthcare system imposes medical debt on its citizens,” saidEagan Kemp, Health Care Policy Advocate at Public Citizen. “In recent decades, medical debt has ballooned and become a major source of revenue for health care profiteers while wrecking the livelihood of working families. In fact, medical debt is the most common reason for debt collection calls in the United States. This practice is cruel and even more profoundly so during a pandemic like COVID-19. We applaud Rep. Neguse for his leadership on health care as Vice Chair of the Medicare for All Caucus and for bringing attention to this important issue at such a crucial time.”

Over 10 million Americans filed for unemployment last month. Many facing layoffs or other income losses cannot afford the potential disaster COVID-19 medical procedures will cause to long term credit scores. 

Read the entire bill here.