Sanders unveils plan to eliminate Americans’ medical debt

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Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Saturday released a plan that seeks to cancel $81 billion in past-due medical bills for Americans.

“The very concept of medical debt should not exist,” Sanders said in a statement. “In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, one illness or disease should not ruin a family’s financial life and future.”

{mosads}“It is immoral and unconscionable that families across the country are finding themselves nearly broke or bankrupt because of crippling medical debt while the health care industry made more than $100 billion in profits last year. My administration will take on the greed of the health care industry and end the epidemic of medical debt in America,” he added.

Under the plan, Sanders says he would negotiate and pay off past-due medical bills in collections that credit agencies have reported. A Sanders administration would also ban the collection of medical debts beyond the statute of limitations and instruct the Internal Revenue Service to conduct a review of the billing and collection practices of the nearly 3,000 nonprofit hospitals, his campaign said.

Sanders is also vowing to use the bankruptcy court system and allow people to adjudicate debt stemming from payments to providers and insurers for medical expenses. He said he would also remove medical debt from credit reports and end credit checking for rental housing, employment, insurance and other nonlending practices.

Sanders, who has long railed against the high cost of health care, cited a study from The Commonwealth Fund saying 79 million Americans have problems with medical debt as evidence that his plan is necessary.

The Vermont Independent has been a vocal advocate of a “Medicare for All” platform that would eliminate private insurance and has led trips to Canada to allow people to buy prescription drugs at lower costs than in the U.S.

The plan’s release comes as he defends a challenge on his left flank from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is also fighting for the primary field’s progressive mantle.

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