H. R. 3421
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
July 30, 2009
Ms. Kilroy (for herself, Mr. Gutierrez, Mr. Minnick, Mr. Perriello, Ms. Schakowsky, Mr. Baca, Ms. Speier, Mr. Hinchey, Mr. Ellison, Ms. Moore of Wisconsin, Ms. Fudge, Ms. Kaptur, Mr. Hastings of Florida, and Mr. Al Green of Texas) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Financial Services
To exclude from consumer credit reports medical debt that has been in collection and has been fully paid or settled, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Medical Debt Relief Act of
Findings and Purpose
The Congress finds the following:
Medical debt is unique because, unlike consumer debt, Americans don’t get to choose when accidents happen or when their genetic traits will catch up to their health profile.
Medical debt collection issues affect both insured and uninsured consumers.
According to credit evaluators, medical debt collections are more likely to be in dispute, inconsistently reported, and of questionable value in predicting future payment performance because it is atypical and nonpredictive.
Nevertheless, medical debt that has been completely paid off or settled can significantly damage a consumer’s credit score for years.
As a result, consumers can be denied credit or pay higher interest rates when buying a home or obtaining a credit card.
Healthcare providers are increasingly turning to outside collection agencies to help secure payment from patients and this comes at the expense of the consumer because medical debts are not typically reported unless they become assigned to collections.
In fact, medical bills account for more than half of all non-credit related collection actions reported to consumer credit reporting agencies.
The issue of medical debt affects millions.
According to the Commonwealth Fund, medical bill problems or accrued medical debt affects roughly 72,000,000 working-age adults in American.
For 2007, 28,000,000 working-age American adults were contacted by a collection agency for unpaid medical bills.
It is the purpose of this Act to exclude from consumer credit reports medical debt that had been characterized as debt in collection for credit reporting purposes and has been fully paid or settled.
Amendments to Fair Credit Reporting Act
Medical debt defined
Section 603 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. 1681a) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
medical debt means a debt described
in section 604(g)(1)(C).
Exclusion for paid or settled medical debt
Section 605(a) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. 1681c(a)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
Any information related to a fully paid or settled medical debt that had been characterized as debt in collection for credit reporting purposes, which, from the date of payment or settlement, antedates the report by more than 30 calendar days.