Venkat’s bill to alleviate medical debt passes House

HARRISBURG, June 26 – State Rep. Arvind Venkat’s bill, the Medical Debt Relief Act, passed the House of Representatives today with bipartisan support.

This bill would establish the Medical Debt Relief Program within the Department of Health to discharge medical debt of eligible residents by contracting with a medical debt relief coordinator. Pennsylvanians would be eligible for relief if they have a household income at or below 400 percent of the federal poverty guidelines or medical debt equal to 5 percent or more of the individual’s household income.

Venkat, D-Allegheny, introduced the Medical Debt Relief Act to address the impact medical debt has on the cost and accessibility of health care for patients, providers and the public.

“By establishing the Medical Debt Relief Program, we can alleviate medical debt for working Pennsylvanians, improve health care institutions and providers’ finances and reduce the costs for all Pennsylvanians,” Venkat said. “As an emergency physician, I’ve witnessed patients delay medical care due to the rising cost of health care, to the point of dying as a result. Through this bill, it is my hope that we can alleviate Pennsylvanians’ medical debt so that they may receive the health care they need.”

The House passed the Medical Debt Relief Act by a vote of 114-89. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.