Empowering Health Care Consumers

Project Title

Strengthening the Campaign to End Medical Debt in New York State

Grant Amount

$200,000

Priority Area

Empowering Health Care Consumers

Date Awarded

September 26, 2022

Region

Central NY

Status

In Progress

Website

https://vlpcny.org/

Medical debt is a crushing burden for New Yorkers. A recent survey found that more than half of New Yorkers struggle to pay medical bills.

Low-income communities and communities of color outside of New York City have been particularly hard hit by medical debt, exacerbating existing health and socioeconomic inequities. A coalition of partners has run a successful End Medical Debt in New York campaign, with NYHealth and other philanthropic support, to advocate for solutions. In 2022, NYHealth awarded the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Central New York (VLP) a grant to advocate for policy changes that protect New Yorkers from unfair medical debt.

Under this grant, VLP will contribute to the End Medical Debt in New York campaign by raising awareness of medical debt issues and consumer protections with clients, legal aid organizations, advocates, and policymakers. VLP will engage in community-wide legal education regarding medical and nursing home debt. This education will focus on consumers’ legal rights, recent changes in State law, and proposed changes to the law. It will provide training to consumers, health and human service agencies, long-term care ombudsmen, and financial counselors throughout Central New York. In addition, VLP will create a toolkit for consumers and legal aid organizations across the State on how to challenge medical debt lawsuits. Educational resources will be informed by VLP’s direct client representation and will highlight on-the-ground consumer experiences, which can be amplified by policy advocates.

NYHealth is also supporting two complementary initiatives for ending medical debt in New York State, with grants to the Public Policy and Education Fund of New York and the Urban Institute.