IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
May 21, 2019
Mr. Merkley (for himself, Mr. Blumenthal, Ms. Warren, Mr. Menendez, and Mr. Durbin) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
To amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to institute a 1-year waiting period before medical debt will be reported on a consumer’s credit report and to remove paid-off and settled medical debts from credit reports that have been fully paid or settled, to amend the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to provide a timetable for verification of medical debt and to increase the efficiency of credit markets with more perfect information, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Medical Debt Relief Act of 2019.
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:
The term 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:
Any information relating to a medical debt if the date on which the debt was placed for collection, charged to profit or loss, or subjected to any similar action antedates the report by less than 1 year.
Any information relating to a fully paid or settled medical debt that had been characterized as delinquent, charged off, or in collection which, from the date of payment or settlement, antedates the report by more than 45 days.
Amendments to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Section 809 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (15 U.S.C. 1692g) is amended by adding at the end the following:
Additional notice requirements for medical debt
In this subsection:
Consumer reporting agency
The term consumer reporting agency has the meaning given the term in section 603(f) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. 1681a(f)).
The term medical debt means a debt arising from the receipt of medical services, products, or devices.
Notice about credit reporting
Before furnishing information regarding a medical debt of a consumer to a consumer reporting agency, the person furnishing the information shall send a statement to the consumer that includes the following:
A notification that the medical debt may not be reported to a consumer reporting agency until the end of the 1-year period beginning on the date on which the person sends the statement.
The specific date that is the end of the 1-year period beginning on the date on which the person sends the statement.
A notification that, if the debt is settled or paid by the consumer or an insurance company during the 1-year period beginning on the date on which the person sends the statement—
the debt may not be reported to a consumer reporting agency; and
the consumer may, during that 1-year period—
communicate with an insurance company to determine coverage for the debt; or
apply for financial assistance.
No reporting during 1-year period
During the 1-year period described in paragraph (2), no person may communicate with, or report any information to, any consumer reporting agency regarding a debt described in that paragraph.
Rule of construction
Nothing in subparagraph (A) may be construed to affect when a debt collector may engage in activities to collect or attempt to collect any debt owed or due or asserted to be owed.
Reporting after the 1-year period
Nothing in this subsection shall prohibit a person from communicating with, or reporting any information to, a consumer reporting agency regarding a medical debt of a consumer after the end of the 1-year period described in paragraph (2) with respect to the debt.
The amendments made by this Act shall take effect on the date that is 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act.