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Video: Prioritizing patients over profits

Ending the medical debt crisis in Maryland

Justice for Breakfast discussion

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Ashley Woolard, Attorney, Health & Benefits Equity Project, Public Justice Center
David Reische, Paralegal, Health & Benefits Equity Project, Public Justice Center
Lindsey Muniak, Medical Debt Organizer, The Debt Collective
Sam Winans, Medical Debt Organizer, The Debt Collective

Reports, research, news, and other resources about medical debt

Have you ever avoided getting the medical care you need because of how much it might cost? Have you ever laid awake at night filled with anxiety over a hospital bill that you can’t afford to pay?

Maryland’s nonprofit hospitals have a legal responsibility to provide free and reduced-cost care to patients who qualify. However, our hospitals have failed to consistently honor this obligation, causing low-income patients to fall through the cracks and struggle to pay for medical debts that they cannot afford and should never have been charged for. Medical debt collection not only threatens the financial and housing security of patients, but also places an immense emotional and physical burden on patients and their families, often further harming the overall health of the household. Over the last four years, End Medical Debt Maryland and other medical debt and legal advocates (including the Public Justice Center) have fought to strengthen medical debt protections for patients in Maryland. As a result, Maryland now stands proudly as a state with some of the strongest medical debt protections in the country. However, there is still much more work to be done. These hard-won rights depend on us holding hospitals accountable to their obligation to provide free and low-cost medical care. To do this, we need to build deeper relationships and collaborate with low-income individuals who are currently struggling or have previously struggled with medical debt.

Hear from the Public Justice Center and the Debt Collective about the current medical debt landscape in Maryland, lessons learned in advocacy, and our community outreach efforts to educate, organize, and build power among directly impacted Marylanders. Together, we can eliminate the burden of medical debt among low-income patients and families once and for all.