States and Counties Partner with Nonprofit to Eliminate Medical Debt  

By Consumers for Quality Care, on February 28, 2024

States and Counties Partner with Nonprofit to Eliminate Medical Debt  

Residents in Alabama and in Wayne County, Michigan will see their medical debt eliminated, according to reporting by The Hill and Bridge Detroit.  

RIP Medical Debt operates by negotiating with health care providers to buy medical debt for a fraction of the cost. To maximize the value of impact, all debt is bought in bulk, and debt relief is provided en masse, so that consumers do not need to submit individual applications.   

A $24,000 donation from a businessowner in Birmingham, Alabama to RIP Medical Debt will help forgive nearly $5 million in medical debt for over 5,000 residents in Alabama. Former Governor Don Siegelman, who connected the businessowner to RIP Medical Debt, is striving to break the cycle of medical debt by expanding Medicaid in the state. “This gift is given in the hope that by paying off this burden it will lead to expanded Medicaid, and better medical emergency facilities and to solutions to keep this cycle of debt from repeating,” said Siegelman. “Much of this debt could’ve been avoided if Alabama had expanded Medicaid.” 

In Wayne County, nearly one in six residents has medical debt.  Thankfully, County Health Director Dr. Abdul El-Sayed is negotiating a plan with the Wayne County Commission to partner with RIP Medical Debt and forgive the debts of nearly 300,000 residents. El-Sayed emphasized how dire this situation is, noting that many consumers incur medical debt through no fault of their own. “This is a situation where you only go to see a doc when worried for your life or your function or that you are plagued with profound pain,” he said. “So this is debt that folks took on to relieve themselves of a circumstance that could potentially have killed them.” 

As America’s medical debt crisis has worsened, RIP Medical Debt has increased its presence across the country. When the nonprofit first started, it focused on negotiating with hospitals willing to discuss debt sales. Now, the nonprofit negotiates directly with local governments that have leftover funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and want to maximize the impact that this funding can have. For example, Oakland County, Michigan used $2 million in federal funds to eliminate $200 million in debt for 80,000 residents.  

CQC applauds these efforts but urges America’s leaders to address the root causes of medical debt and protect consumers.