House Health Committee reports out Venkat’s bill to alleviate medical debt

HARRISBURG, June 14 – The Medical Debt Relief Act (H.B. 78), sponsored by Rep. Arvind Venkat, D-Allegheny, was approved by the House Health Committee today by a vote of 18-3.

The Medical Debt Relief Act 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. The legislation would also require hospitals to notify patients of their eligibility for charity care and assist patients with their application if eligible.

“With two-thirds of Americans delaying medical care due to the cost, it is time we help working Pennsylvanians by establishing the Medical Debt Relief Program,” Venkat said. “Through this program, we can help Pennsylvanians burdened by medical debt and in need of relief, improve the finances of health care institutions and providers and reduce the costs for all Pennsylvanians.”

Reps. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., Tarik Khan, D-Phila., Bridget Kosierowski, D-Lackawanna, and Nick Pisciottano, D-Allegheny co-sponsored the legislation with Venkat.

Venkat, the only physician in the General Assembly, will now work with colleagues for full House passage and enactment into law.