Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HR0907
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Full Text of HR0907  102nd General Assembly




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2    WHEREAS, The members of the Illinois House of
3Representatives wish to commend Cook County Board President
4Toni Preckwinkle on the occasion of the Cook County Board
5using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to pay off medical
6bills of Cook County residents; and
7    WHEREAS, Medical debt is the leading contributor to
8personal bankruptcies; according to the Consumer Financial
9Protection Bureau, somewhere between 17% to 35% of American
10adults have medical debt; of those percentages, Black and
11Hispanic people, young adults, and low-income individuals have
12higher rates than the national average; and
13    WHEREAS, Addressing medical debt is an urgent priority, as
14medical debt can also lead people to avoid medical care,
15develop physical and mental health problems, and face adverse
16financial consequences, including lawsuits, wage and bank
17account garnishment, home liens, and bankruptcy; and
18    WHEREAS, Creditors, such as hospitals, ambulance
19operators, or private doctors, write off debts after a few
20years, and some put them up for sale to third-party collection
21agencies, which can buy millions of dollars' worth of charges
22at a fraction of the original cost in the hopes of collecting



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1on at least some past-due bills; the older the debt, the
2cheaper it is to buy; and
3    WHEREAS, Under President Preckwinkle's guidance, Cook
4County government will pay the nonprofit group RIP Medical
5Debt $12 million over the next three years to buy medical debt
6accumulated at hospitals across Cook County for pennies on the
7dollar; the money to pay RIP Medical Debt comes from Cook
8County's pool of $1 billion in ARPA funds; and
9    WHEREAS, Rather than attempt to collect on the debt, RIP
10Medical Debt will forgive it and work to have that debt erased
11from credit reports; Cook County hopes to abolish $1 billion
12in medical debts that could date back years; and
13    WHEREAS, Eligible individuals will be Cook County
14residents who have a household income less than four times the
15federal poverty level or have medical debts that are 5% or more
16of their annual income; debt accounts will be anywhere from 18
17months to seven or more years old; debtors will not need to
18apply to get the relief, and that debt forgiveness will not
19count against them when they file their taxes; and
20    WHEREAS, Cook County expects hundreds of thousands of
21residents to get debt relief over the three years of the
22arrangement with RIP Medical Debt; and



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1    WHEREAS, While the two hospitals Cook County runs, Stroger
2and Provident, are not eligible to participate in the county's
3program due to ARPA spending restrictions, RIP will use
4privately fundraised dollars to support any debt relief
5associated with the Cook County hospitals; and
6    WHEREAS, President Preckwinkle hopes the medical debt
7abolition program will help improve families' long-term
8economic security and encourage people to seek medical care
9free from worries about being pursued for past-due bills; and
10    WHEREAS, President Preckwinkle will be recognized
11alongside other government officials at an event with Gene
12Sperling, President Joe Biden's ARPA coordinator and senior
13adviser, for Cook County's creative use of ARPA dollars; and
14    WHEREAS, The Cook County Board aims to initiate absolving
15medical debts in late fall; therefore, be it
18we commend Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on
19utilizing Cook County's ARPA funds to pay off the medical
20debts of Cook County residents in order to give those
21individuals some much needed debt relief; and be it further



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1    RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of this resolution be
2presented to President Preckwinkle as an expression of our
3esteem and respect.