MEDIA ADVISORY: HELP Committee to Hold Hearing on Addressing the Medical Debt Crisis in America

WASHINGTON, July 9 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, on Thursday, July 11 at 10:00 a.m. ET, will lead the committee in a hearing titled, “What Can Congress Do to End the Medical Debt Crisis in America?”

“In the United States of America – the richest country in the history of the world – people should not be going bankrupt or having their wages garnished because they cannot afford to pay outrageous medical bills,” said Chairman Sanders. “We can no longer tolerate a health care system in which 42 percent of cancer patients deplete their life savings within two years of their diagnosis because they are drowning in medical debt. That is unspeakable. No one in America should face financial ruin because of the cost of an unexpected medical emergency or a hospital stay. The time has come to cancel all medical debt and guarantee health care to all as a human right, not a privilege.”

In the U.S. today, more than four in 10 adults report having health care debt, and 12 percent of adults have an outstanding balance of $10,000 or more. Combined, Americans owe $220 billion in medical debt. Cancelling medical debt is overwhelmingly supported by the American public, including 84 percent of Republicans. When asked which types of debt Americans would like to see forgiven, two-thirds of Americans pointed to medical debt.

Medical debt has impacted Americans in every sector of their lives. Over 60 percent of adults with medical debt reported cutting back on food, clothing, or other basic necessities. Over 40 percent of respondents to a survey reported skipping or delaying paying other bills, and nearly 30 percent took money out of retirement or other long-term savings accounts. Nearly 75 percent of adults say they are worried about being able to afford unexpected medical bills.

In May, Chair Sanders introduced the Medical Debt Cancellation Act, which would eliminate all $220 billion in medical debt held by millions of Americans, wipe debt from credit reports, and drastically limit the accrual of future medical debt.

What: Senate HELP Committee Hearing titled, “What Can Congress Do to End the Medical Debt Crisis in America?”
When: Thursday, July 11, 10:00 a.m. ET
Where: Room 562, Dirksen Senate Office Building. The hearing will also be livestreamed on the HELP Committee’s website and Sanders socials.

  • Abdul El-Sayed, MD, DPhil, Director & Health Officer, Wayne County Dept of Health, Human & Veterans Services, Detroit, MI
  • Luke Messac, MD, PhD, Attending Physician, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Instructor of Emergency Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
  • Allyson Ward, Advanced Practice Nurse, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
  • Fumiko Ladd Chino, MD, Radiation Oncologist, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY
  • Ge Bai, PhD, CPA, Professor of Accounting and Health Policy, Johns Hopkins University, Washington, DC
  • Benedic Ippolito, PhD, Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC