BERN NOTICE: Bernie's Medical Debt Plan Challenges Biden, Debt Collectors & Credit Agencies
The new initiative would roll back Biden's bankruptcy bill, and challenge the corporations profiting off debt
|David Sirota||Sep 21, 2019|| 35|
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Last week at a town hall in Nevada, a Navy veteran told Bernie that he was considering suicide because he is being crushed by medical debt. The disturbing story exemplified the medical debt crisis across America — and today Bernie is releasing his plan to eliminate all past due medical debt. That raises a question: who might oppose such a commonsense initiative?
The answer can be found by following the money and the legislative history — which runs right through Joe Biden’s record.
Today, roughly 79 million Americans are struggling to pay their medical bills or are paying off medical debt — and last year alone, 8 million people were pushed into poverty due to medical expenses. Health insurance is no protection: One in six patients with insurance incurred a surprise medical bill in 2017.
Bernie’s plan to cancel medical debt is a direct challenge to the corporations and CEOs that profit off debt, and to lawmakers like Biden who spearheaded legislation that made it so much more difficult to reduce medical debts in the first place. Here are some details:
Bernie’s plan is a direct challenge to Joe Biden — who broke with Obama and most other Dems to help the GOP and his finance industry donors pass the bankruptcy bill
One of the major drivers of the debt crisis was the 2005 bankruptcy legislation that Bernie fought — and that Joe Biden helped Republicans ram through Congress. A 2018 study found that the legislation made it far harder for patients to discharge medical debt through bankruptcy after a hospital stay, especially for uninsured patients. Biden split with then-Senator Obama to become just one of only three Democrats to vote against an amendment that would have exempted those with serious medical debt from the harshest parts of the bill. Bernie’s plan would roll back the key provisions of Biden’s 2005 legislation, to make it easier to reduce medical debt.
Bernie’s plan challenges the $11 billion debt collection industry
Bernie’s plan cancels past due medical debt — which is a direct challenge to the debt collection industry. That industry rakes in about $11 billion a year by buying up debt for pennies on the dollar, and then collecting as much as possible from people who can’t afford their bills — and much of that is medical debt. In the last decade, debt collection industry trade groups have spent more than $8 million lobbying Congress, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. That includes more than $2 million since Trump took office. They have also delivered hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of campaign donations to Republican lawmakers.
Bernie’s plan challenges the $10 billion credit reporting agencies
Bernie’s plan ends the corporate control of Americans’ credit scores by creating a public credit registry to replace for-profit credit reporting agencies, and by excluding medical debt from credit scores. That is a direct threat to the three corporations that currently control the financial destiny of 140 million Americans. Those three companies — Equifax, TransUnion and Experian — reported more than $10 billion in revenue and more than $1.4 billion in profits last year, while paying their CEOs more than $91 million. Their business practices have hurt millions of Americans — through data breaches and through credit scores that systematically perpetuate gaps in wealth and inequality between white and minority consumers.
To stop any serious regulation of their business practices, they have together spent more than $25 million on lobbying and more than $4 million on corporate PAC contributions in the last decade, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.
Bern after reading,