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Bernie’s new socialist solution: Govt will cancel $81B of medical debt

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Democrat presidential candidate and proud socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders has discovered yet another freebie to offer to the American people — or at least to those among the American people interested in acquiring unearned freebies.

In a new proposal unveiled Saturday, the senator called for the elimination of all $81 billion of “past-due” medical debt in the country.

“Under this plan, the federal government will negotiate and pay off past-due medical bills in collections that have been reported to credit agencies,” the proposal reads.

Past-due medical debt refers to medical bills that remain unpaid due to either the patient being unable or unwilling to pay off the costs for his or her healthcare. The proposal appears to be aimed primarily at alleviating the troubles of “low-income” Americans.

“Many hospitals, including many non-profit and public hospitals, aggressively sue low-income patients for medical bills incurred through no fault of their own. Some have even filed lawsuits against their own employees to collect unpaid medical bills,” it reads.

The proposal also outlines plans to impose stringent regulations on debt collection agencies. These restrictions would:

  • “End abusive and harassing debt collection practices.”
  • “Prohibit the collection of debt beyond the statute of limitations.”
  • “Significantly limit the contact attempts per week a collector can make to an individual through any mode of communication, regardless of how many bills are in collection.”
  • “Require collectors to ensure information about a debt is fully accurate before attempting to collect.”
  • “Substantially limit the assets that can be seized and the wages that can be garnished in collection to ensure consumers do not lose their homes, jobs, or primary vehicles and will be able to financially support their families.”

But in defending why these regulations are necessary, Sanders distorted the facts.

“Studies show that 500,000 people are bankrupted by medical expenses each and every year — and the true number may be far higher,” the proposal reads.

“The 500,000 figure comes from a March editorial in the American Journal of Public Health in which Dr. David Himmelstein, the lead author, sampled debtors’ bankruptcy filings each year from 2013 to 2016 and found that medical costs were linked to 500,000 bankruptcies annually,” the Washington Examiner notes.

Speaking with the Examiner, Himmelstein said that the senator’s interpretation of his research was wrong.

“Often, a bankruptcy has multiple causes, and disentangling one from the others isn’t something that can be done,” he said. “There are a whole lot of things in life that have multiple causations and can’t be fully disentangled.”

But try telling that to Sanders …

The key problem with his plan, the senator’s critics maintain, is that it’d rob the American people of agency and, more importantly, punish the responsible and hard-working over those who aren’t.

“I’ve got a perfect 850 credit score because I live below my means, keep my debt low and pay off my cards in full every month,” the top-voted comment at Breitbart reads.

“I think I will just stop paying the bills I get from my doctor or hospital. I recently had an ER visit after discovering an underground hornets nest and getting stung dozens of times. The bill was close to $1,000. I paid it the day I got it. Next time, I’ll throw it away. After all, it wasn’t my fault those hornets targeted and bullied me. Burnie will cancel my debt.”

The sarcastic anger was likely based in part on the results of Obamacare, which wound up skyrocketing premiums and taxes on hard-working Americans to pay the way for the alleged “have-nots.” What the law essentially did was disincentivize hard work and personal responsibility.

And what Sanders’ litany of freebie proposals would do likewise is further disincentivize the two:

The proposal also calls for eliminating America’s three most popular credit registries — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — and allow the government to take over.

Besides removing medical debt from credit reports, the new government bureau would take steps to “end racial biases in credit score.”

“Credit scores also systematically perpetuate gaps in wealth and inequality between white and minority consumers,” the radical proposal reads. “For millions of Americans, one unforeseen medical emergency or illness could send a family into financial destitution or a spiraling debt trap.”

“We must and we will remove the profit motive from assessing the creditworthiness of American consumers. We will establish a public registry that will end racial biases in credit scores and ensure those with medical debt are not penalized for the ‘crime’ of getting sick.”

This section of the proposal is based on the canard that racial disparities are invariably attributable to racism and discrimination.

Vivek Saxena

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