Michigan nurses, nonprofit team up to clear $1 million medical debt for 500 families

Michigan families are getting medical debt relief thanks to efforts from nurses.

The Michigan Nurses Association, which represents about 13,000 registered nurses statewide, recently worked with Rye, N.Y.-based nonprofit RIP Medical Debt to clear more than $1 million in medical debt for more than 500 Michigan individuals and families, the union said via news release. These efforts, led by MNA members at Lansing, Mich.-based Sparrow Hospital, affects families and individuals across Michigan, including those in the Greater Lansing area.

MNA officials said since RIP Medical Debt buys medical debt for less than its value, the union paid about $10,000 to clear $1 million in debt.

Overall, they say their goal is to support hospital reforms to help alleviate excessive medical bills.

"It's heartbreaking to see medical debt driving so many families into financial ruin and preventing them from getting essential care for themselves and their kids," said Jeff Breslin, RN, president of the Professional Employee Council of Sparrow Hospital/Michigan Nurses Association. "We know that wiping out debt for 500 families won't solve everything, but MNA members want to do whatever we can to help while also calling for hospitals to make changes that end this epidemic."

This calling includes Sparrow, which nurses are asking to contractually agree to "guarantee that its policies that offer free or discounted healthcare to financially eligible individuals or families will continue." Nurses said they also want the hospital to "stop reporting patients with unresolved medical debt to credit scoring agencies."

Sparrow is currently in contract negotiations with the union.

John Foren, a spokesperson for Sparrow, told the Lansing State Journal via statement the hospital has an average annual commitment of $80 million toward charity and uncompensated care, free and discounted health clinics, and covering the funding shortfall for Medicaid and Medicare patients.


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