Comments needed on federal proposal to erode medical debtors’ rights

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The National Consumer Law Center is asking people who care to submit public comments on the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s proposed debt collection rule. Medical bills are the biggest cause of bankruptcy and the top reason for contact by collections. Unfortunately, that burden falls very heavily on Connecticut residents. Health insurance premiums for both families and singles in Connecticut are the seventh and eighth highest among states, respectively. One in ten Connecticut adults are not able to see a doctor when needed because of cost. Although having health insurance coverage is not complete protection against medical debt, it does help. After a five-year drop, the numbers of uninsured are rising again in Connecticut. The burden of medical debt is unlikely to ease anytime soon and may get far worse.

If adopted, the proposal would exempt collections from accountability for deceptive practices, compromise the privacy of very sensitive information, allows poor notices and communications that could make it impossible for consumers to access critical information about their debts, and inundate consumers, their families and friends with calls. The NCLC makes it easy to comment, including an online postcard-length option. Our longer comments are online here.