GREENSBORO, N.C. — Democrats versus Republicans. That's what you normally hear, but there is an issue that North Carolina lawmakers are working together to solve the medical debt problem. This is the kind of debt that can bankrupt a family.
According to the North Carolina Treasurer's Office, 20% of people in the triad alone have medical debt in collections.
“This is one that it doesn't matter what your affiliation is democrat or republican, something is wrong, it's not enough to talk about the problem, eventually someone has to fix it, and that's what we're attempting to do with the de-weaponization bill,” said NC State Treasurer Dale Folwell.
It's called the Medical Debt De-Weaponization Act. The idea is-- un-needed medical debt is a weapon used against consumers.
The legislation protects consumers from medical debt creditors and buyers and reduces burdensome medical debt by making sure hospitals are giving the amount of charity care they should.
Hospital charity care is key. A recent study found that in 2019, some of North Carolina's non-profit hospitals billed $149.2 million to poor patients who should have qualified for free or discounted care under the hospital's own policies.
When patients don't get the discounted care, the medical debt is too much and their credit score is impacted.
When your credit is low, it affects your life.
“What you pay for a cell phone, an apartment, insurance, interest rates, and now we're finding there are some essential jobs in NC that you shouldn’t apply for if your credit is bad,” said Folwell.
This Medical Debt bill was introduced this May. The treasurer is hoping there is some kind of movement on it by the end of the year.