the CFPB has done its share of policing mortgage brokers, student loan companies, and banks. But as the U.S. health care system turns tens of millions of Americans into debtors, this financial watchdog is increasingly working to protect beleaguered patients, adding hospitals, nursing homes, and patient financing companies to the list of institutions that regulators are probing.

In the past two years, the CFPB has penalized medical debt collectors, issued stern warnings to health care providers and lenders that target patients, and published reams of reports on how the health care system is undermining the financial security of Americans.

In its most ambitious move to date, the agency is developing rules to bar medical debt from consumer credit reports, a sweeping change that could make it easier for Americans burdened by medical debt to rent a home, buy a car, even get a job. Those rules are expected to be unveiled later this year.

The CFPB’s turn toward medical debt has stirred opposition from collection industry officials, who say the agency’s efforts are misguided. “There’s some concern with a financial regulator coming in and saying, ‘Oh, we’re going to sweep this problem under the rug so that people can’t see that there’s this medical debt out there,’” said Jack Brown III, a longtime collector and member of the industry trade group ACA International.

Brown and others question whether the agency has gone too far on medical billing. ACA International has suggested collectors could go to court to fight any rules barring medical debt from credit reports.

At the same time, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering a broader legal challenge to the agency’s funding that some conservative critics and financial industry officials hope will lead to the dissolution of the agency.

    31 month ago

    the agency is developing rules to bar medical debt from consumer credit reports

    Thank God. As a lender at a credit union, I’m tired of pleading with our own underwriters to give people a break on their medical debt. Some of them are quite accommodating while others stick to the credit report guidelines religiously. I’ll be glad to see this source of ambiguity cleared up for good, and to stop penalizing people for having the grave misfortune of requiring medical treatment in America.