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Pennsylvania Lawmakers Pursue Relief for Medical Debts Through House Bill 78

Pennsylvania lawmakers gathered at the Capitol to address outstanding medical debts for residents through House Bill 78. The proposed legislation aims to establish a program within the Department of Health to relieve debts for individuals living at or below 400% of the federal poverty level, equivalent to $60,240 for a single person and $124,800 for a family of four. The program would also cover obligations amounting to 5% or more of a person’s income.

Representative Tarik Khan, a co-sponsor of the bill and a nurse practitioner, highlighted the pressing issue of medical debt affecting over a million Pennsylvanians. Approximately one in two residents in the state carries medical debt, and one in three faces challenges in paying their medical bills. Half of the population has postponed medical care due to existing debt.

Representative Bridget Kosierowski, another co-sponsor and a nurse, emphasized the non-discriminatory nature of medical debts and recounted instances where patients deferred necessary care due to financial concerns. Notably, nearly 60% of individuals with medical debt are reported to have insurance coverage.

During a news conference, Springfield resident Maggie Lynn shared her personal experience of the wide-ranging impact of medical debt on her life, leading to financial instability and strain on familial relationships. Lynn humorously mentioned a friend’s text wishing her to “break a leg” at the press conference, highlighting the financial burden she faced.

Medical debt is commonly sold at a fraction of its value, at 1 cent on the dollar, enabling debt collectors to purchase it inexpensively and demand repayment with interest. House Bill 78 proposes allowing the state to purchase such debt directly. Governor Josh Shapiro’s initiative to invest $4 million in debt could potentially discharge $400 million for residents across the state.

The prime sponsor of the bill, Representative Arvend Venkat, an ER physician from Pittsburgh, cited the success of a similar program in the city council. In Pittsburgh, a $1 million investment eliminated $115 million in debt for over 24,000 residents. The proposal secured approval in the House with a vote of 114-89 in June and currently awaits consideration in the Senate.

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Pamela K Coyle 1949-2024

Pam received her Master’s degree in library science from Clarion University in 1978. She never lost her love of reading or her enthusiasm for libraries.

Daily Forecast, April 21, 2024

Franklin County Forecast: In the forecast for today, we are expecting overcast clouds, with a high of 52.23°F and a low of 35.2°F. The humidity

Candie Sue Diffenderfer 1963-2024

Candie worked in the Prothonotary’s office at the Fulton County Courthouse, and later at Irving Accounting and U.S.A. Cartage in Williamsport, MD.

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