How churches and lawmakers are addressing medical debt

Churches are increasingly stepping in to help cover people's medical debt as state and federal lawmakers work on p solutions to the issue, according to Kaiser Health News.

Earlier this year, De Pere, Wis.-based Life Church donated $17,500 to RIP Medical Debt, a charity that buys and forgives medical debt for pennies on the dollar, and helped cancel  $4.4 million in medical debt.  Pathway Church in Wichita, Kan., recently donated to Rye, N.Y.-based RIP to cover $2.2 million in medical debt.

They're not alone. Churches in other states, including Maryland, Illinois, Virginia and Texas, also have helped Americans struggling with medical debt, according to KHN.

Overall, nearly 20 places of worship have teamed up with RIP since early 2018 to abolish $34.4 million of debt, Scott Patton, the nonprofit's director of development, told the publication, adding that the number of churches offering help is increasing.

Participating church leaders say they choose to work with RIP because a small donation can have a large reach, according to KHN.   

Meanwhile, federal lawmakers are working on potential solutions, with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposing a rule in May to protect consumers against harassment by debt collectors and provide avenues to address or dispute the debt. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee also signed a law April 30 that requires hospitals to wait longer to send patients' unpaid bills to collections. 

Read the full KHN story here.


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