Sep 1, 2019

Bernie Sanders pledges to cancel $81 billion in U.S. medical debt

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at the Democratic National Committee's summer meeting in San Francisco. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted on Saturday about plans to cancel "all $81 billion in existing past-due medical debt."

"In the United States of America, your financial life and future should not be destroyed because you or a member of your family gets sick. That is unacceptable. I am sick and tired of seeing over 500,000 Americans declare bankruptcy each year because they cannot pay off the outrageous cost of a medical emergency or a hospital stay."
— Sen. Bernie Sanders statement

The big picture: Sanders' plan is designed to address debt under the current system and the policy is still in the works, but it will be separate from Sanders' "Medicare for All" plan, CNN notes.

  • Sanders has yet to reveal details of how the proposal would be financed, but he said the federal government would negotiate and pay off past-due medical debt that's been reported to credit agencies.
  • He plans to repeal some elements of the 2005 bankruptcy reform bill and allow other existing and future medical debt to be discharged, per the New York Times.

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Bernie Sanders aims to wipe out medical debt collection

Sen. Bernie Sanders campaigns at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill campus on Sept. 19. Photo: Preston Ehrler/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders released new details on Saturday for his plan to cancel $81 billion in U.S. medical debt, which is separate from his "Medicare for All" plan.

The big picture: Medical debt burdens Americans without health insurance and, increasingly, those who have insurance with "high deductibles or limited networks of doctors whose care is paid for," the New York Times reports. Surprise medical bills have also grown more common and more expensive.

Go deeperArrowSep 21, 2019

Between the lines of Bernie Sanders' plan to eliminate medical debt

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Sen. Bernie Sanders released his 2020 plan to cancel $81 billion in existing medical debt, reform collections practices and change bankruptcy rules this weekend.

Why it matters: The proposal speaks directly to the issues of surprise medical bills and hospitals' lawsuits against patients — issues that have only recently entered the political lexicon.

Go deeperArrowSep 23, 2019

Scoop: Bernie Sanders one-ups Warren with his own wealth tax

Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders has released a wealth tax that's even more aggressive than Sen. Elizabeth Warren's "ultra-millionaire tax." Axios first reported Sanders' proposal.

Why it matters: Sanders keeps trying to remind voters that he's the original when it comes to progressive policy in the 2020 field, but he's being eclipsed at every turn by the surging Warren. The Vermont senator has proposed massive spending — $16 trillion on climate alone — and so has to show a little revenue to add credibility to his proposals.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 24, 2019