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Los Angeles County Approves Medical Debt Relief for Residents

Los Angeles County supervisors voted unanimously to purchase and forgive millions of dollars in medical debt as part of a comprehensive initiative to address a $2.9 billion burden affecting nearly 800,000 residents. The measure, led by supervisors Janice Hahn and Holly Mitchell, involves partnering with Undue Medical Debt, a national organization that buys and retires medical debt for pennies on the dollar. The county's $5 million investment aims to eliminate $500 million in medical debt for 150,000 residents. This pilot program is part of a broader county strategy that includes preventing future medical debt accumulation through enhanced hospital financial assistance programs and stricter monitoring of hospital debt collection practices. Medical debt severely impacts low-income individuals, people of color, and families with children, often causing them to delay or forgo necessary health care. The Hospital Association of Southern California raised concerns about the initiative, arguing that it unfairly targets hospitals and citing studies showing that one-time debt relief does not significantly improve patient well-being. Despite these concerns, the county views the program as a crucial step toward economic well-being and public health. The program, while providing immediate relief, acknowledges the need for ongoing efforts to prevent medical debt and improve hospital financial aid policies. Click here for article.



  • Partnership with Undue Medical Debt: Los Angeles County's pilot program will work with Undue Medical Debt to buy and forgive medical debt for a fraction of its value, starting with a $5 million investment to eliminate $500 million in debt for 150,000 residents.

  • Comprehensive Debt Relief Plan: The initiative includes preventive measures such as improving hospital financial assistance programs and monitoring debt collection practices to prevent future medical debt accumulation.

  • Significant Public Health Issue: Medical debt disproportionately affects low-income individuals, people of color, and families, often causing them to delay or forgo necessary health care, and is considered a major public health issue.

  • Mixed Reactions and Ongoing Efforts: While the program provides immediate relief, critics argue it is a short-term solution that may let hospitals off the hook for inadequate financial aid programs and does not address the root causes of medical debt, highlighting the need for continuous efforts to improve hospital policies and prevent debt recurrence.

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