Venkat applauds Shapiro’s proposal to alleviate medical debt

10.4% of Pennsylvanians have medical debt in collections

HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – Today, Rep. Arvind Venkat, D-Allegheny, applauded Gov. Josh Shapiro’s proposal to alleviate medical debt by allocating funding for the Medical Debt Relief Program in the state’s budget for the 2024-25 fiscal year.

Shapiro’s proposal would appropriate $4 million to alleviate up to $400 million in distressed medical debt in collections in Pennsylvania. Along with Reps. Donna Bullock, D-Phila.; Tarik Khan, D-Phila.; Bridget Kosierowski, D-Lackawanna; and Nick Pisciottano, D-Allegheny, Venkat introduced the Medical Debt Relief Act (H.B. 78), which serves as the basis for Shapiro’s proposal.

Previously, the Medical Debt Relief Act passed the House 114 to 89, garnering bipartisan support. Venkat’s legislation would establish the Medical Debt Relief Program within the Department of Health to discharge medical debt of eligible Pennsylvanians by contracting with a medical debt relief coordinator. It would also require hospitals to inform patients of their financial assistance programs and assist patients with applying for financial assistance when eligible.

“In our commonwealth, more than 10% of Pennsylvanians have an average of $1,473 in medical debt in collections, which prevents them from accessing health care, as well as contributes to their financial burdens,” Venkat said. “As a practicing emergency physician, I treated a woman who delayed breast cancer treatment due to medical debt. As a result, the cancer spread, and she died. By alleviating medical debt as part of the 2024-25 budget, we can ensure patients have access to necessary medical treatment, aid providers with struggling finances, and reduce health care cost pressures that affect all of us. This is a win for all Pennsylvanians.”

He added that Shapiro’s proposal would benefit up to a quarter of Pennsylvanians with medical debt in collections.


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