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NYC announces program to forgive $2 billion in medical debt

Mayor of New York City Eric Adams speaks with the press after meeting with members of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in on December 7, 2023. He announced a medical debt plan for New York City on Monday. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
Mayor of New York City Eric Adams speaks with the press after meeting with members of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in on December 7, 2023. He announced a medical debt plan for New York City on Monday. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 22 (UPI) -- A new program introduced by New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasser on Monday seeks to retire some $2 billion in medical debt owed by thousands of residents.

The announcement said the new RIP Medical Debt program would cost the city about $18 million to retire the debt over three years.

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The plan centers on program purchasing of bundled medical debt portfolios from hospitals, commercial debt buyers and other providers, and erasing the debt with no further obligations.

To be eligible for the program, individuals must have an annual household income of at or below 400% of the federal poverty line and have medical debt equal to 5% or more of their annual household income.

"Getting healthcare shouldn't be a burden that weighs on New Yorkers and their families," Adams said in a statement. "Up to half a million New Yorkers will see their medical debt wiped thanks to this life-changing program -- the largest municipal initiative of its kind in the country."

The city said the program will partner with the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City to raise additional funds to cover the medical debt.

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"For hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and millions of Americans, medical debt creates anxiety, uncertainty and stress," Anne Williams-Isom, the deputy mayor for health and human services, said in a statement. "New York City's investment through this partnership will help working people and families advance their health and financial well-being so they can thrive, instead of just survive."

The announcement comes on the heels of Adams this month vetoing several sweeping police accountability bills passed by the city council, saying they would make the city less safe, drown police officers in paperwork and increase police overtime pay over time.

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