Sanders, Khanna Introduce Legislation to Forgive Medical Debt

June 3, 2024

Saying, “The time has come to cancel all medical debt,” Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced legislation in May that would eliminate the over $200 billion in medical debt held by millions of Americans. Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA).

“Our current health care system is bankrupting Americans,” said Khanna. “I’ve heard heartbreaking stories from constituents who have skipped doctor’s appointments due to cost, who have lost loved ones because they couldn’t afford their medication, and who aren’t able to buy a house or get a job because of crippling medical debt.”

The bill would amend the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, making it illegal to collect medical debt incurred prior to the bill’s enactment, and the Fair Consumer Credit Reporting Act, effectively wiping medical debt from credit reports. It would also amend the Public Health Service Act, updating billing and debt collection requirements to limit the potential for future debt to be incurred.

Canceling medical debt is popular across the political spectrum. A 2022 survey found that two-thirds of Americans, including a majority of Republicans and 85 percent of Democrats, favor it.

“This is the United States of America, the richest country in the history of the world,” said Sanders. “People in our country should not be going bankrupt because they got cancer and could not afford to pay their medical bills.”