James, Cuomo suspend debt collection for eighth time
New York State Attorney General Letitia James and Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced that the state has renewed, for the eighth time, an order to halt the collection of medical and student debt owed to the state of New York that has been specifically referred to the Office of the Attorney General for collection.
The OAG has renewed the order through Dec. 31 in response to continuing financial impairments resulting from the spread of COVID-19. After Dec. 31, the AG’s office plans to reassess the needs of state residents for another possible extension.
Additionally, the OAG will accept applications for suspension of all other types of debt owed to the state of New York and referred to the OAG for collection.
“As COVID-19 continues to spread, more and more New Yorkers are feeling its financial impact,” said Attorney General James. “As we approach the holiday season and more begin to worry about their finances, my office is renewing the suspension of state and medical debt through the end of the year in order to alleviate some of these hardships and help New Yorkers make it through these difficult times.”
“New Yorkers made enormous sacrifices to bend the curve of this deadly virus, and we recognize many people are still struggling with both emotional pain and economic hardship as a result of this crisis,” Cuomo said. “Renewing the suspension on the collection of student and medical debt that is referred to the attorney general’s office through December 31, 2020 will help lessen the burden faced by so many families and businesses whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic.”
Millions of New Yorkers, like Americans across the nation, have been impacted — directly or indirectly — by the spread of COVID-19, forcing them to forgo income and business. Since COVID-19 began to spread rapidly across the country in mid-March, tens of millions of residents across the nation have filed for unemployment, including more than 4.1 million in New York state alone.
In an effort to support many New Yorkers economically impacted during this difficult time, Attorney General James has renewed an order — first made in March and renewed in April, in May, in June, in July, in August, in September, and in October — to ease the financial burdens for many workers and families by halting the collection of medical and student debt owed to the state of New York and referred to the OAG for collection — with limited exceptions.
The OAG collects certain debts owed to the state of New York via settlements and lawsuits brought on behalf of the state of New York and state agencies. A total of more than 165,000 matters currently fit the criteria for a suspension of state debt collection, including, but not limited to:
- Patients who owe medical debt due to the five state hospitals and the five state veterans’ homes;
- Students who owe student debt due to State University of New York (SUNY) campuses; and
- Individual debtors, sole-proprietors, small business owners and certain homeowners who owe debt relating to oil spill cleanup and removal costs, property damage, and breach of contract, as well as other fees owed to state agencies.
The temporary policy has also automatically suspended the accrual of interest and the collection of fees on all outstanding state medical and student debt referred to the OAG for collection, so New Yorkers are not penalized for taking advantage of this program.
New Yorkers with non-medical or non-student debt owed to the state of New York and referred to the OAG may also apply to temporarily halt the collection of state debt. People seeking to apply for this temporary relief can fill out an application online or visit the OAG’s website to learn more about the suspension of payments.
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