Governor McKee Signs New Law to Keep Medical Debt Off Credit Reports

Legislation aimed at safeguarding Rhode Islanders from the financial repercussions of medical debt has been signed into law by Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee. The bill, sponsored by Representative Mary Ann Shallcross Smith and Senator Melissa A. Murray, was signed on June 24, following its passage by the Assembly on June 11.

The new law, designated as 2024-S 2709A and 2024-H 7103A, prohibits debt collectors from reporting medical debt to credit bureaus. It also establishes guidelines for communication with consumers, bans false and misleading representations by debt collectors, and prevents collections during insurance appeals. The legislation is set to take effect on January 1.

“Medical debt is a growing and persistent problem that so many of our friends and family consistently face,” said Representative Shallcross Smith (D-Dist. 46, Lincoln, Pawtucket). “Unlike other types of debt, where people spend beyond their means, medical debt occurs because people have the misfortune of getting sick. This bill looks to provide compassion and relief to Rhode Islanders by instituting common-sense reform.”

This consumer-protection bill is part of the Rhode Island HEALTH initiative (Holistic Enhancement and Access Legislation for Total Health), proposed by Senate leaders to enhance healthcare access and affordability across the state.

“In a recent survey by, all living generations reported that medical debts had harmed their credit scores, with millennials reporting the highest incidence, at 52 percent. Medical debts have significant long-term financial consequences, preventing individuals from getting home loans or other credit they need and causing some to make harmful sacrifices such as not paying rent or utilities or buying food or medicine. The stress they cause can exacerbate a person’s health problems further,” said Senator Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield). “This bill is a measure to prevent medical debt from sending Rhode Islanders into a financial downward spiral for something over which they had no control.”

Medical bills are among the top reasons for bankruptcy in the United States. A 2019 study by the National Institute of Health found that 66.5% of respondents who filed for bankruptcy cited medical expenses or problems as contributing factors.

The legislation marks a significant step forward in protecting Rhode Islanders from the harsh financial impacts of medical debt and aims to provide much-needed relief and security to those burdened by unforeseen medical expenses.




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