Today, the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, National Economic Council, and Domestic Policy Council convened over 80 federal and state officials to discuss the importance of reducing medical debt as part of the President’s Bidenomics agenda to lower costs for American families. One in three adults – nearly 100 million Americans – struggle with unpaid medical bills. Medical debt keeps everyday Americans from securing loans, seeking medical services, and affording the essentials they need to get by. President Biden and Vice President Harris believe that access to health care should be a right, and that no one should need to go into debt to get the health care that they need.
During today’s event, Administration officials stressed the importance of tackling medical debt in order to reduce costs for and improve the health and well-being of Americans, and thanked state leaders for their partnership on this issue. State leader participants detailed their own efforts to tackle medical debt, including legislative successes in California, Colorado, and Washington. These states have taken on medical debt by addressing medical payment products, unfair debt collection practices, surprise billing and facility fees, and charity care.
This roundtable builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment and ongoing work to lower health care costs. Recent actions include:
- On December 7, 2023, President Biden announced new actions to lower health care and prescription drug costs by addressing consolidation in the health care market, which drives higher costs.
- On December 6, 2023, HHS announced that more than 7 million Americans signed up for coverage through an Affordable Care Act (ACA) plan since the start of 2024 Open Enrollment Period, and will continue to see lower health care premiums in 2024 thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act. Last year, over 16 million people enrolled in ACA plans—a 50% increase since President Biden took office.
- On November 16, 2023, CFPB released a report highlighting the challenges American families face when debt collectors pursue allegedly unpaid medical bills.
- On September 21, 2023, Vice President Harris and CFPB Director Chopra announced that CFPB will propose a rule to remove medical bills from credit reports.
- On August 29, 2023, Medicare announced the first 10 drugs that had been selected for drug price negotiation.
- On July 7, 2023, President Biden announced that CFPB, HHS, and Treasury issued a Request for Information (RFI) to address the rise of providers offering medical credit cards, which drive up debt; they are currently evaluating comments.
- On July 7, 2023, President Biden announced that HHS, the Department of Treasury, and the Department of Labor proposed a new rule to crack down on junk insurance, and issued guidance to limit surprise medical billing (implementing the No Surprises Act).
- On February 14, 2023, the White House announced that the Small Business Administration (SBA) will reduce the role of medical debt in their main guaranteed loan program (7a) by discouraging the consideration of medical debt and making technological investments in Lender Match to help borrowers find lenders that do not consider medical debt.
The roundtable featured the following speakers:
- Lael Brainard, Assistant to the President and National Economic Advisor
- Neera Tanden, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council
- Rohit Chopra, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
- Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, Administrator, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
- Diane Thompson, Senior Advisor to the Director, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Tom West, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, Department of Treasury
- Lynn Sha, Counselor to the Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services
- Rob Bonta, California Attorney General
- Mike Weissman, Colorado House of Representatives
- Tarra Simmons, Washington House of Representatives
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