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Illinois Governor plans to eliminate USD 1B in medical debt

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker is planning to eliminate $1 billion in medical debt for Illinois residents.

Pritzker announced on Monday a $10 million appropriation that would provide a billion dollars in medical debt relief for hundreds of thousands of Illinois residents.

The plan still needs approval from lawmakers, but if it’s approved, this would be the first investment in a multi-year plan to help relieve medical debt for up to a million people.

“The stress and strain of mounting medical debt on top of a healthcare challenge can significantly and adversely affect an individual’s well-being,” Lizzie Whitehorn, the director of the Department of Health and Human Services, said. “Increasing their likelihood of bankruptcy and even make them reconsider seeking future medical care.”

Medical debt is a leading cause of bankruptcy in the U.S.

“This low-cost program to eliminate medical debt will alleviate a major burden on families across Illinois,” Pritzker said.

The governor is asking lawmakers to approve a $10 million investment plan to partner with a non-profit called Undue Medical Debt.

The non-profit negotiates with healthcare systems to cancel, purchase and relieve providers of portfolios, allowing them to eliminate debt for people who qualify.

The partnership has shown to be successful in Cook County.

“Using federal funds through the American Rescue Plan Act, Cook County has successfully acquired and erased $348 million in debt and benefitted 200,000 Cook County residents,” county board president Toni Preckwinkle said.

Those who received the assistance said it’s been a weight off their shoulders.

“It has relieved me of so much stress and tension and heartache,” John Cook said.

Pritzker hopes to see that type of success statewide.

The plan will focus on people dealing with financial hardship and relieve $1 billion in medical debt for 340,000 Illinois residents in the first year with more relief planned for the future.

“And in the coming years, I’m proposing we eliminate medical debt for over 1 million Illinoisians,” Pritzker said. WGNTV

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