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Medical debt bill likely headed to Governor Youngkin's desk

Wellness GM / Flickr, Creative Commons: flickr.com/photos/130100316@N04/15728773073/

Governor Glenn Youngkin may soon consider a bill that would create a statute of limitations for medical debt.

For people struggling to make ends meet, getting hit with a medical bill from five years ago is a burden that can lead to financial ruin. That's why members of the General Assembly are considering creating a three year statute of limitations for medical debt.

Jay Speer at the Virginia Poverty Law Center says lawmakers need to take action now.

"It's a huge problem, and it's all over people's credit reports," Speer explains. "But then a lot of people get sued for this debt, get a judgment against them and have their wages garnished. So it can be a real problem."

The bill was introduced by freshman Delegate Nadarius Clark, a Democrat from Portsmouth.

"So many times we see that people have these ghost bills that come back to haunt them 20 or 25 years later, 30 years later," says Clark. "And now they have garnishments coming out or different things happening. And it was completely out of their mind and out of their thoughts, and now they are struck with a burden."

The bill has one more procedural vote in the House, which it's expected to pass. Then it'll be sent over to the Executive Mansion for the consideration of Governor Glenn Youngkin.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.