Waters Calls for Hearing on Medical Debt Legislation
Following today's report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) finding that consumers' credit scores may be overly penalized for medical debt, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, welcomed the Bureau's findings and called upon Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling to hold a hearing on the issue, and on legislation Waters has introduced to address the problem.
Waters released the following statement.
"I welcome today's report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau showing that medical debt often has a disproportionate impact on the creditworthiness of consumers. Illness or injury is often random and unavoidable. The unexpected medical costs that follow only serve to add additional complications to an already difficult situation. I believe that ensuring such costs do not harm a consumer's ability to borrow money and purchase goods is a matter of basic fairness.
That is why last year I introduced legislation that would require consumer reporting agencies to remove any information related to fully paid or settled medical debt from a consumer's credit report within 45 days. The Medical Debt Responsibility Act would ensure that consumers are not arbitrarily penalized by medical debt once it is fully settled or paid. Unfortunately, the Financial Services Committee has yet to even consider the issue of medical debt during this Congress. Today, on behalf of the thousands of our nation's citizens struggling with medical debt, I call on Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling to hold a hearing on this legislation, so we can take the good work of the CFPB forward and provide our nation's consumers with important relief."
Waters' legislation, The Medical Debt Responsibility Act of 2013 (H.R. 1767) would require consumer reporting agencies to remove any information related to fully paid or settled medical debt from a consumer's credit report within 45 days. Under current law, this type of information is generally retained on a credit report for seven years. The legislation recognizes that medical debt is unique and therefore does not impose an arbitrary dollar cap on the amount of medical debt that can be removed from a credit report. According to a study by the Commonwealth Fund, medical bill problems or accrued medical debt affects roughly 73 million working-age adults in this country.