Editors note: A glimpse of the power of awareness. Once people learn of solutions, they next educate themselves (can you actually abolish medical debt?) and then put those remedies to work. The Veteran Mission Possible campaign, itself an outgrowth of the RIP Medical Debt charity co-founded by Jerry Ashton, will incorporate medical debt relief specifically dedicated to veterans in 2023. Stay tuned.)
In the next few weeks, tens of thousands of people in Cook County, Ill., will open their mailboxes to find a letter from the county government explaining that their medical debt has been paid off.
Officials in New Orleans and Toledo, Ohio, are finalizing contracts so that tens of thousands of residents can receive a similar letter in the coming year. In Pittsburgh on Dec. 19, the City Council approved a budget that would include $1 million for medical debt relief.
More local governments are likely to follow as county executives and city councils embrace a new strategy to address the high cost of health care. They are partnering with RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit that aims to abolish medical debt by buying it from hospitals, health systems and collections agencies at a steep discount.
“What we need in this country is universal health care, clearly,” Toni Preckwinkle, the president of the Board of Commissioners in Cook County, said. “But we’re not there as a nation yet, and so those of us who are responsible for local units of government have to do everything we can to make health care available, accessible to people.”