HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania lawmakers plan to introduce a bill that would help low-income families facing medical debt.
The plan to create the Pennsylvania Medical Debt Repayment Program was unveiled Monday by State Reps Arvind Venkat and Nick Pisciottano, both D-Allegheny; Bridget Kosierowski (D-Lackawanna); and Tarik Khan and Donna Bullock, both D-Phila.
Lawmakers say the program would be similar to one implemented in Pittsburgh, where $1 million was invested through the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt to eliminate voter debt.
According to lawmakers, Pittsburgh estimates it will be able to pay $115 million in healthcare debt for about 24,000 residents.
At the state level, Pennsylvania lawmakers believe a $5 million investment in the state budget would pay off an estimated $575 million in medical debt.
“Every $1 spent on this program could eliminate over $100 in medical debt — it’s hard to imagine a better return on investment for taxpayers,” Pisciottano said. “The Pennsylvania Medical Debt Repayment Program would not only make healthcare more accessible, but also give our economy a significant boost by giving families more purchasing power.”
Lawmakers say some communities are hit harder than others when it comes to medical debt accumulation.
“Black and brown Pennsylvanians are disproportionately affected by medical costs, access to medical care, and many diseases that require routine management,” Bullock said. “Offering bills is the first step in ensuring everyone has access to the care they need, when they need it.”
“As a nurse, I’ve seen firsthand the devastation that expensive healthcare bills can cause,” Khan said. “Medical debt prevents people from getting the treatments they need and can worsen their health. I support this legislation to avoid another person missing out on critical treatment they need to avoid unmanageable medical debt they cannot afford.”
Pennsylvania House Speaker Mark Rozzi has vowed not to consider legislation until the House of Representatives passes legislation giving child sexual abuse victims a window to file a civil lawsuit regardless of the statute of limitations. At this time, the House has not passed any rules or the abuse legislation.
The medical debt program bill now awaits a committee referral from Rozzi. A copy of the legislation was not posted on the house sponsor’s websites.
https://www.abc27.com/pennsylvania/pennsylvania-lawmakers-propose-medical-debt-relief-bill/ Pennsylvania Legislature Proposes Medical Debt Forgiveness Bill