Memorandum in Support of The Ounce of Prevention Act (S1366A/A6027) and The Fair Medical Debt Reporting Act (S4907A/A6275A)

Posted June 1, 2023 by Amanda Dunker

Memorandum in Support of The Ounce of Prevention Act (S1366A/A6027) and The Fair Medical Debt Reporting Act (S4907A/A6275A)

April, 2023

Memorandum in Support of The Ounce of Prevention Act (S1366A/A6027) and The Fair Medical Debt Reporting Act (S4907A/A6275A)

Our organizations routinely hear patients’ horror stories about medical debt and billing chaos. A 2019 poll found that 16 percent of New York adults surveyed had to take out loans or racked up credit card debt to pay for medical care, 15 percent had used up all or most of their savings, and 12 percent had been put into collections. Six percent of all New Yorkers have past due medical debt ruining their credit, and in 29 counties this is true for over 10 percent of residents. More than 54,000 were sued between 2015 and 2020, including at least 4,000 during the height of the pandemic. People of color are disproportionately impacted by affordability burdens and their negative repercussions: 28% of African Americans and 22% of Latinx people carry medical debt versus 17% of White people.

Medical care is not a luxury, and it should never result in the financial devastation these patients experience. These two pieces of legislation will protect patients.

  • The Ounce of Prevention Act (S.1366/A.6027) will modernize hospital financial assistance. Annually, New York’s nonprofit hospitals receive $1.1 billion in Indigent Care Pool (ICP) funds to support uncompensated care for low-income patients. However, these funds are often too difficult for patients to access. It is time to update this law with a common financial aid application and policy to be used by all 200 hospitals in New York State. Patients need simplified income rules so low-income and working people get fair discounts. We must eliminate obsolete rules like having an asset test only for very low-income people and provide patients more than just 90 days to apply.
  • The Fair Medical Debt Reporting Act (S.4907/S.6275) will stop medical debt from ending up on patients’ credit reports. After billing, providers or their collection entities often send unpaid accounts to third-party credit reporting agencies. These reporting agencies do not have access to provider and insurance records and make it difficult for patients to either confirm the accuracy of their debt or to make corrections if there is a billing reporting error. It also serves no purpose: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has found that medical debt reporting is not predictive of whether a person is a good credit risk. This bill would protect New Yorkers from medical debt by prohibiting the reporting of medical bills to credit reporting agencies.

For these reasons, we urge the legislature to pass, and the governor to sign both bills this year.

Elisabeth Benjamin, Vice President, Health Initiatives
Community Service Society of New York
Jason Cone, Chief Public Policy Officer
Robin Hood
David McNally, Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy
AARP New York
Chuck Bell, Programs Director, Advocacy
Consumer Reports
Arline Cruz Escobar, Director of Health Programs
Make the Road New York
Ursula Rozum, Statewide Health Care Organizer
Citizen Action of New York
Blair Horner, Executive Director
NY Public Interest Research Group
Maria Alvarez, Executive Director
New York StateWide Senior Action Council
Leon Bell
New York State Nurses Association
Rev. E. West McNeill, Executive Director
Labor-Religion Coalition of NYS
Lisa Tyson, Director
Long Island Progressive Coalition
Bethsy Morales-Reid,Vice President for Program Strategy & Impact
Hispanic Federation
Anthony Feliciano,Vice President Community Mobilization and Advocacy
Housing Works
Kristin Brown, President & CEO
Empire Justice Center
Mandy Strenz, Chapter Coordinator
Lara Kassel, Coalition Coordinator
Medicaid Matters New York
Rebecca Antar Novick, Director, Health Law Unit
The Legal Aid Society
Sandra Lobo, Executive Director
Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition
Earl Francis, President
Union of Black Episcopalian New York Chapter
Roberta Todd, Coordinator
Social Justice Advocacy Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of NY
Roberta Todd, Lead Coordinator
Christ Church Riverdale Social Justice Ministry
Sean Miller, Northeast Regional Director
Young Invincibles
Gus Birkhead, Chair, Policy and Advocacy Committee
New York State Public Health Association
Phil Prehn, Community Organizer
Syracuse United Neighbors (SUN)
Christina LeBeau, Director Of Advocacy
Brain Injury Association of NYS
Amanda Lugg, Executive Director
African Services Committee
Nina Oishi, Legal Fellow
New York Legal Assistance Group
Mbacke Thiam, Housing, Health & CAN Community Organizer
Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York
Melissa Genadri, Health & Economic Mobility Policy Associate
Children’s Defense Fund – New York
Medha Ghosh, Senior Policy Coordinator for Health
Coalition for Asian American Children and Families
Sally Curran, Executive Director
Volunteer Lawyers Project of CNY, Inc.
Frederic Riccardi, President
Medicare Rights Center
Mark Hannay, Director
Metro New York Health Care for All
Lori Andrade, COO
Health and Welfare Council of Long Island
Juan Carlos Grajeda, Bilingual Program Manager
Emerald Isle Immigration Center
Steering Committee
Health Care for All New York
Rabbi David Niederman, President
United Jewish Organization of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn
Alex Thompson, Director of Advocacy
New York Association on Independent Living
Therese E. Brzezinski, Director, Planning and Public Policy
Long Island Center for Independent Living, Inc. (LICIL)
Kathleen Stein, President
League of Women Voters of St. Lawrence County, New York
Helen Meltzer-Krim, Steering Committee
Northwest Bronx Indivisible
Judy Fletcher, Health Committee Co-chair
NYCD16 Indivisible
Keith Gurgui, Systems Advocate
Resource Center for Accessible Living, Inc.
Carol De Angelo, Director of Office of Peace, Justice and Integrity of
PJIC Office, Sisters of Charity of New York
Melissa Inniss, Coordinator of the Operating Committee
St. Ann’s Church for the Deaf