Lawmakers seek to remove paid medical bills from mortgage originations
Three U.S. congressmen are offering an novel concept when it comes to kick-starting home sales. A new bill proposed by Reps. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.), Ralph Hall (R-Texas) and Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) will prevent institutions from keeping resolved medical debts on credit reports, where they end up serving as barriers to obtaining a mortgage. “Medical debt is not a reliable indicator of credit risk, yet nearly a quarter of Americans have seen their credit scores plummet because of small, routine medical bills,” said H.R. 2086 cosponsor Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), Ranking Member of the House Small Business Committee. “This bill provides a common-sense, simple solution to address this problem now and protect consumers in the future.” The lawmakers behind the legislation, called the Medical Debt Responsibility Act, want paid medical debts removed 45 days after a full repayment is made. Current practices allow keeping paid medical debts — some as small as a few dollars — on consumer credit reports for a period of seven years. When proposing the legislation, the lawmakers cited statistics that show 14 million Americans with medical debt items on their credit reports due to mistakes in billing. Last year alone, 30 million Americans received calls from collection agencies about unpaid medical bills. "Small amounts of medical debt cause huge credit problems for millions of responsible, hard-working Americans who have suffered an illness or accident," said Rep. Shuler. "This legislation is a win for consumers and the economy. By keeping cleared medical debt off of credit reports, this bill will allow more Americans to have the credit score they deserve and need to buy homes and stimulate economic growth in their communities." Write to Kerri Panchuk.