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The federal government will be taking action against “bad actors” who break the law when attempting to collect medical debt, Vice President Kamala Harris said on Monday.
Watch Harris’ remarks in the player above.
“Our administration is also taking action against the bad actors. The folks who violate consumers rights to force people to pay medical debt,” Harris said during a speech announcing the new action to be taken by the Consumer Finance and Protection Bureau.
READ MORE: Stacey Abrams’ nonprofit donates $1.34 million to wipe out medical debts
Harris said that some debt collectors “harass” consumers with “dozens” of calls a week, pose as law enforcement officials or threaten them with jail time.
“Remember what we are talking about. Folks who are in the process of attempting to recover from an illness, for example,” said Harris.
“That sort of harassment and intimidation is unethical and often it is illegal. And that is why the CFPB has made it a priority to hold debt collectors accountable.”
For years, research has shown that medical debt is the most common cause of bankruptcy in the United States. Health experts have long pointed to the need to prevent poor health from ruining a person’s financial wellbeing, and advocates had pushed for the Affordable Care Act as a means to do just that.
But there is still work left to do, especially amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus has infected much of the country, mutating into progressively more transmissible variants over the last two years.
In a recent report, the Government Accountability Office estimated as many as 23 million Americans had developed a chronic condition called long COVID, and at least one million people in the U.S. have withdrawn from the workforce due to fatigue, brain fog and other debilitating symptoms linked to the condition.
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