National Nonprofit RIP Medical Debt Applauds Federal Commitment to Reducing Impact of Medical Debts & Strengthening Consumer Protections
New York, NY, April 11, 2022 – Today the White House released a fact sheet outlining in broad terms how it plans to reduce the impact of burdensome medical debt and strengthen consumer protections.
This afternoon Vice President Kamala Harris announced four areas of reform to protect families from destructive medical debt: stopping harmful practices from providers/debt collectors; reducing how medical debt impacts credit worthiness; forgiving the debt of low-income American veterans and increasing general knowledge of consumers’ rights.
This comes after a recent announcement from the three major credit reporting agencies that medical debt on credit reports will be largely overhauled this summer to remove much of its financial implications. RIP Medical Debt (RIP) supports that effort (statement here), but wants protective measures for consumers to go farther. As the White House points out in today’s announcement, “The latest research finds that owing medical debt is not a reliable predictor of overall financial health.”
“Since 2014 RIP Medical Debt has been lifting families out of financial ruin after getting sick, being in an accident or struggling with a chronic condition,” shares Allison Sesso, President & CEO of RIP. “To see this issue acknowledged at the federal level means our hard work is paying off and I’m very pleased so many substantive changes have been proposed to make access to healthcare simpler, more equitable and patient-focused. We will continue to advise the administration and federal bodies anyway we can until this debt of necessity no longer ruins lives.”
Beyond eliminating nearly $7 billion of medical debt for 3.6 million people to date, RIP continues to work in parallel with the goals of this announcement.
- RIP has eliminated $115 million of veteran medical debt to date and its Director of Debt Acquistion, a veteran himself along with RIP’s co-founder, holds an annual motorcycle ride to raise funds specifically for vet debt abolishment.
- In 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General gave RIP permission to acquire medical debts directly from providers like health systems and physicians’ groups. Not only does this provide more recent debts when compared to the secondary debt market but RIP also offers feedback on a provider’s financial assistance policies and shares testimonials from debtors which can help an institution better understand and modify its billing practices for the better.
The White House’s fact sheet outlines some very important steps in triaging the medical debt crisis which align with RIP’s goals, including: reducing predatory collection actions that cause mental anguish and prevent patients from seeking further care; making charity care more transparent and accessible; helping those communities most affected by medical debt (communities of color) and affirming that medical debt is not a reflection of credit worthiness and should be removed entirely from credit considerations.
Stories from patients helped by RIP that outline the importance of this work:
“I appreciate you helping me out during this difficult time… In 2015 my legs stopped working as I was walking out of a parking lot. I went to the doctor and learned that I had severe compression on my [spinal nerve roots] caused by an injury I experienced during my military service. I had to have decompression surgery and spent 45 days in the hospital. I have over 1 million in medical debt floating around.”Etienne, Utah
“By having this debt removed it has helped me improve my credit. I had this debt listed on my credit since 2003. It was a relief to have this debt paid in full. Thank you so much because now my dream of owning a house is one step closer.”Sarah, California
“When cancer strikes, you use your life savings just to maintain your home and [keep] food on the table for your three children. As a single mom, my goal was to stay alive and see them graduate. I am now cancer free 5 years later but still struggle due to the outstanding medical bills. I still have numerous surgeries to undergo but need to find a way to finance them.”Tonya, North Carolina
RIP shares these stories to not only affirm that real people are struggling, but to also help remove the stigma of medical debt for the millions of people who are struggling through no fault of their own.
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Since being founded in 2014 by two former debt collectors, RIP Medical Debt has acquired — and abolished — more than $6.7 billion of burdensome medical debt, helping over 3.6 million families and addressing a major social determinant of health. RIP partners with individuals, faith-based organizations, foundations and corporations and empowers donors by converting every dollar contributed into $100 of medical debt relief on average.
RIP partners with hospitals and health systems and physician groups to acquire medical debt for abolishment. RIP rose to national prominence on an episode of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver in which RIP facilitated the abolishment of $15M in medical debt.
In December of 2020, philanthropist MacKenzie Scott donated $50 million to RIP to help uplift struggling communities. To learn more, visit: https://ripmedicaldebt.org/hospitals/