The New York Times reports:
Bernie Sanders has long wanted to remake the health care system so no one will have to pay directly for medical care again. Now, he also wants to go back and cancel all the medical debts of people who have been billed under the current system.
In a plan released Saturday, Mr. Sanders, the Vermont senator and presidential candidate, proposes wiping out an estimated $81 billion in existing debt and changing rules around debt collection and bankruptcy. He also calls for replacing the giant credit reporting agencies with a “public credit registry” that would ignore medical debt when calculating credit scores.
The proposals reflect Mr. Sanders’s concern that the medical system has placed financial hardships on too many Americans, by discouraging them from seeking needed medical care — but also by saddling them with expensive and unfair bills that can harm their financial security, ding their credit and, in some cases, lead to bankruptcy.
From the Sanders campaign:
In America today, hospitals throughout the country are selling uncollected medical debt for pennies on the dollar to collection agencies who aggressively attempt to force patients to pay the full amount due. These debt collectors harass patients at work and at home, deploying unscrupulous tactics even after the statute of limitations on the debt has expired.
Forcing additional stress and hardship on someone for the “crime” of getting sick is immoral, unconscionable, and un-American. We will eliminate past-due medical debt, stop the predatory tactics of debt collectors, and ensure non-profit hospitals are serving their intended mission.
As president, Bernie will: Eliminate the $81 billion in past-due medical debt. Under this plan, the federal government will negotiate and pay off past-due medical bills in collections that have been reported to credit agencies. End abusive and harassing debt collection practices. Prohibit the collection of debt beyond the statute of limitations.
Significantly limit the contact attempts per week a collector can make to an individual through any mode of communication, regardless of how many bills are in collection.
Require collectors to ensure information about a debt is fully accurate before attempting to collect.