by Joyce Frieden: For Complete Post, Click Here…
Actions include punishing bad debt collectors and making medical debt relief easier to apply for.
The Biden administration is taking action to lessen the burden for Americans dealing with medical debt, Vice President Harris said Monday.
“Some debt collection companies harass consumers with dozens of phone calls a week,” Harris said during a briefing in the South Court Auditorium at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building here. “Remember what we are talking about — folks who are in the process of attempting to recover from an illness, for example. Debt collectors try to collect on debt that has already been paid, some who pose as law enforcement officials or threaten consumers with jail time. That sort of harassment and intimidation is unethical and often it is illegal. And that is why the CFPB [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] has made it a priority to hold debt collectors accountable.”
One in three U.S. adults are saddled with outstanding medical debt,” said Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget, who spoke before Harris. “It’s become the biggest source of debt and collections in our country, bigger than credit cards, utilities, auto loans, and other sources combined … It’s long past time that we do something about it.”
And medical debt is not spread evenly among communities, said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, who also spoke at the event. “Americans with lower incomes, poorer health, and from communities of color have higher rates of medical debt,” he said. “More than two-thirds of debtors cite medical issues as contributing to their bankruptcy.”