The Wall Street Journal Publishes ACA’s Response to CFPB Medical Debt Credit Reporting Comments

In a letter to the editor, ACA CEO Scott Purcell addresses misinformation from the CFPB about debt collectors’ treatment of medical debt and work with health care providers to ensure accurate billing.

07/22/2022 12:00 P.M.

2 minute read

In response to an article in The Wall Street Journal, ACA International submitted the following letter to the editor from ACA CEO Scott Purcell correcting false statements from the CFPB, which was published July 20. (A subscription may be required to view the article.)

In “Credit Reports Remove Some Old Medical Debt” (Personal Journal, July 12), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s John McNamara is reported as saying that debt collectors will delete medical debts when consumers question them because they have little faith in their accuracy. That isn’t true. Collection agencies work with reputable health care providers to ensure accurate billing. ACA International is the association of credit and collection professionals. Members use comprehensive compliance programs to ensure that only legally owed debts are reported. We acknowledge health care’s complexity, including complicated insurance. ACA members have strong controls to respond to legitimate disputes and mitigate errors. CFPB’s claim that inaccurate amounts are reported as a coercive measure is, again, false. The CFPB hasn’t provided any data supporting this allegation. The free market has no incentive for such illegal behavior. If this were common practice, healthcare providers would stop working with collection agencies, and we’d incur significant legal liability. There’s no evidence either has come to pass. Arbitrary changes hurt patients. Delaying reporting to one year enables insurance companies to deny claims for untimely filing. This, and not reporting debts under $500, negatively affects healthcare providers’ revenue, resulting in reduced access to care for the low-income as providers move to more upfront payments. Congress didn’t provide for unelected CFPB staff to make healthcare-policy decisions; it’s a slippery slope. Americans deserve greater access to affordable health care, not less.

Advocacy with the CFPB

Purcell’s letter is the latest in a string of advocacy efforts by ACA with the CFPB, including written responses to medical debt research, the bureau’s advisory opinions and interpretive rules, and a meeting with CFPB staff and ACA leaders at ACA’s 2022 Convention & Expo.

ACA is actively engaging with legislators, regulators, and other stakeholders through advocacy on this critical issue. Look for more updates on this advocacy in ACA Daily.

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