Illinois county aims to relieve $1B in medical debt 

Officials in Illinois' Cook County hope to use $12 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds to relieve more than $1 billion in medical debt, the Chicago Tribune reported July 21. 

If approved, the county — home to Chicago — will pay the funds over the next three years to RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit that purchases and forgives medical debt for pennies on the dollar, according to the report. 

The program awaits final approval from the Cook County Board of Commissioners, and local hospitals must consent to participate, but board president Toni Preckwinkle said she expects both to happen in time for a late fall rollout, according to the report. 

Eligible residents will be those who have a household income less than four times the federal poverty level, or have medical debts that are 5 percent or more of their annual income, according to the Tribune

Two hospitals owned by the county — John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital and Provident Hospital — are not eligible to participate due to American Rescue Plan Act spending restrictions, the Tribune reported.

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