U.S. Sen. Mark S. Kirk (R-Ill.) wants a consumer agency to fix the problem of medical debt affecting credit reports. Along with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Kirk is urging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to investigate the issue, which he says can cause costly errors. Kirk says the issue is close to him personally. “I would say as someone who went through a traumatic medical event, that if you end up in the hospital as long as I was, it can be a hell of a bill,” said Kirk.
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The problem, according to the senators, is that many people don’t discover they have medical debts before they are sent to bill collectors, or when they check their credit reports to apply for a loan. Credit bureaus and lenders have testified to Congress that delinquent medical debt is also a bad indicator of creditworthiness, as medical debts are due to unplanned emergencies or illness. The CFPB is in the process of investigating medical debt’s role in credit scoring.