The city will partner with the charity RIP Medical Debt to alleviate the medical burdens for up to 500,000 debtors over a three-year period, Adams said.
“Getting health care shouldn’t be a burden that weighs on New Yorkers and their families,” Adams said in a statement. “Since day one, our administration has been driven by the clear mission of supporting working-class New Yorkers and today’s investment that will provide $2 billion in medical debt relief is another major step in delivering on that vision.”
Adams continued, “No one chooses to go into medical debt — if you’re sick or injured, you need to seek care. But no New Yorker should have to choose between paying rent or other essentials and paying off their medical debt.”
New York City residents must meet one of two criteria to qualify for the debt relief: The first is having an annual household income at or below 400% of the federal poverty line, and the second is having medical debt equal to 5% or more of their annual household income.
The charity and city will purchase debt portfolios of eligible New Yorkers from hospitals and debt collectors, and those who are granted the forgiveness will be notified of their reward. There is no application process.
Members of New York’s congressional delegation applauded the new program, claiming people should not have to struggle with healthcare.
“In the world’s wealthiest nation, medical debt should not be the reason that people struggle to make ends meet,” Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY) said in a statement. “‘New York Strong’ must also mean ‘New York Healthy,’ and I’m proud of the work we’re doing to make sure every New Yorker can care for their health without facing insurmountable financial burdens.”
The one-time debt relief program will launch later this year and is expected to run for three years.