Lawmakers suggest that one way to tackle the bills affecting citizens is to expand Medicaid, which is a government insurance program designed specifically for low-income citizens. The second option includes strengthening financial protections for patients.
The state wants to pass legislation that covers both options which would put North Carolina at the forefront of becoming a national leader when it comes to protecting its residents from not only medical debt, but also aggressive collection practices.
According to NPR’s findings, roughly 100 million people across the United States face some sort of health care debt. Furthermore, it is this problem that is pushing millions of people to file bankruptcy and deplete savings and retirement accounts leaving them with low credit scores. Ultimately, the issue with medical debt is causing both difficulty in landing housing and employment for residents across the nation.
“Medical debt can drive people into poverty and prevent people and their families from getting out of poverty,” said Mark Rukavina, a program director with the nonprofit health advocacy group Community Catalyst. “These bills could provide ‘significant protection’ against that.”
North Carolina currently falls at No. 28 on the national scorecard of medical debt policies developed by the Innovation for Justice lab located at the University of Arizona and the University of Utah. Should the state’s lawmakers pass both a bill in regard to both medicaid expansion and strengthening financial protection for residents, it would jump to the No. 2 spot.