If the initial salvos are any indication, the battle over the proposal from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to ban medical debts from consumers’ credit reports is going to contentious.
A day after the CFPB released its announcement that it is initiating the rulemaking process to amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to remove medical debts from consumers’ credit reports, an organization called Accountable.US released a report chronicling how much ACA International has spent during the past few years on lobbying members of Congress, including discussions on medical debt bills that had been introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Using publicly disclosed filings, Accountable said that ACA has spent more than $2 million in the past three years on Congressional lobbying efforts. As a means of comparison, the National Association of Realtors spent more than $81 million lobbying in 2022 alone. AARP last year spent nearly $16 million lobbying Congress. Two million dollars is nothing to sneeze at, but spread out over more than three years, it pales in comparison to how much is spent.
Data like how much money is spent on lobbying is a fact. It’s something that can be checked and determined whether it is accurate or not. But alongside the facts that it published, Accountable also had some choice words about the collection industry.
“No American should be kept from buying a new car or home because of a credit report smeared by often-inaccurate medical debt that has virtually no bearing on how financially responsible they are,” said Jeremy Funk, a spokesman for Accountable. “Yet unscrupulous debt collectors notorious for fudging numbers and pinning debt on the wrong people have spent millions lobbying to keep the system broken in favor of higher profits. It’s another reminder why Americans benefit from having a strong independent consumer watchdog in their corner.”
Unscrupulous … fudging numbers … pinning debt on the wrong people … if that isn’t painting an entire industry with a broad brush, I don’t know what is.