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Pritzker signs medical debt forgiveness bill into law

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(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed legislation that will require the state’s taxpayers to pay off the medical debt for thousands of Illinoisans.

Calling medical debt a “uniquely American issue,” Pritzker is using $10 million in state funding in the new fiscal year to purchase the medical debt of up to 300,000 Illinoisans.

“No Illinoisan should face financial ruin after receiving the medical care they need,” said Pritzker.

Pritzker first proposed a medical debt buyback program during his fiscal year 2025 State of the State and Budget Address.

“We know that households burdened by medical debt are less likely to go to the doctor or seek follow-up care, and are more likely to suffer from illness,” said House Bill 5290 sponsor, state Sen. Mike Simmons, D-Chicago. “Our communities need to know they can seek medical care whenever they need it.”

Simmons said to qualify, individuals must have a household income below 400% of the Federal Poverty Level, or possess medical debt amounting to 5% or more of their household income ensuring those facing significant financial hardship from medical expenses receive relief.

Opponents of the plan said taxpayer subsidies to a nonprofit to liquidate select medical debt may not provide the benefits supporters are looking for.

State Rep. Chris Miller, R-Oakland, said the state can’t afford it.

“One thing we need to remember is that Illinois is broke and people are leaving,” said Miller.

Pritzker also signed into law Senate Bill 2933 that makes medical debt ineligible to be included on a credit report, an action that is also being proposed at the federal level by the Biden administration.

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