Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Saturday officially unveiled his plan to eliminate $81 billion of medical debt, detailing the proposal on his website.
Sanders, who has promised to overhaul the healthcare system by abolishing private insurance and implementing Medicare for All, released his official plan in a tweet linking to his website Saturday, writing, “79 million Americans are burdened by medical debt for the ‘crime’ of getting sick. We’re going to eliminate all past-due medical debt”:
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 21, 2019
He states on his website:
“It is immoral and unconscionable that families across the country are being evicted, having their heat disconnected, or having their already-inadequate wages garnished because of crippling medical debt while the health care industry made more than $100 billion in profits last year.
Sanders’ plan would erase $81 billion in medical debt via negotiations between the federal government and “collections that have been reported to credit agencies.” However, he does not explicitly detail how he will pay for the expensive proposal.
“We’re addressing it on both ends.” Sanders said of his healthcare overhaul, according to the New York Times.“We’re addressing it now by trying to help the people who have past-due medical bills.”
“And we’re addressing it by finally creating a healthcare system that guarantees coverage to people without any premiums, without any deductibles, without any out-of-pocket expenses,” he added.
Another big piece of his proposal involves reforming the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, which Sanders calls a “disastrous piece of legislation that benefited Wall Street and the credit card companies while causing severe economic pain and financial distress for ordinary Americans throughout the country”:
The bankruptcy bill reinforced and strengthened a rigged financial system that disproportionately harms African American borrowers and makes debt relief and forgiveness harder to obtain. Not only must we eliminate past-due medical debt, we must also reform our corrupt bankruptcy system to make it easier to discharge medical bills put on credit cards and other forms of payment, and ensure this debt does not follow patients going forward.
The plan also calls to “end abusive and harassing debt collection practices,” which he will do, in part, by limiting both the contact attempts between debt collectors and individuals and “assets that can be seized and the wages that can be garnished.”
Sanders also proposes to reform the current lending system — specifically “for-profit credit registries” like Equifax:
Credit scores also systematically perpetuate gaps in wealth and inequality between white and minority consumers. For millions of Americans, one unforeseen medical emergency or illness could send a family into financial destitution or a spiraling debt trap. We must and we will remove the profit motive from assessing the creditworthiness of American consumers. We will establish a public registry that will end racial biases in credit scores and ensure those with medical debt are not penalized for the “crime” of getting sick.
The socialist senator previewed his overhaul in a tweet last month, signaling his intention to “cancel all $81 billion in existing past-due medical debt”:
It is nothing less than barbaric that the leading cause of bankruptcy in America is medical debt.
These people didn't spend all their money on luxury items. Their crime was that they got sick.
We are going to cancel all $81 billion in existing past-due medical debt.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 31, 2019
The announcement follows Sanders’ proposal to erase $1.6 trillion in student loan debt.