A new bill was proposed on April 7 in the House of Representatives which, if passed, would amend the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The proposed bill aims to regulate how medical debts are handled under these statutes.
The bill’s current name is: “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.” While there are few details about the specifics of the bill, its name provides ample context as to what lawmakers hope to accomplish.
The bill was introduced by Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-Calif.), who is a member of the House Financial Services Committee and a former law professor and consumer protection advocate. The bill has 63 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. Among the 63 co-sponsors, 62 are Democrats and include outspoken Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). The lone Republican co-sponsor is Congressman Jefferson Van Drew (R-N.J.).
According to her press release, Congresswoman Porter’s proposed legislation has garnered support from the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the Consumer Federation of America, Americans for Financial Reform, and the National Patient Advocate Foundation. Congresswoman Porter went on to say, “Nobody chooses to get sick and take on medical debt. It is wrong for families to be saddled with years and years of additional financial hardships because of an illness or injury they weren’t able to plan for.”
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services for review, according to Congress.gov.