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Episcopal Church in Alabama buys, forgives $8.1 million of medical debt

Episcopal Church in Alabama buys, forgives $8.1 million of medical debt

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Mountain Brook, in partnership with the Diocese of Alabama, recently bought and forgave $8.1 million in medical debt.

Over the Mountain Journal reports:

Over the holidays, roughly 6,500 Alabama households received a notice in the mail that their medical debts had been purchased and forgiven by the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama.

Those letters were the culmination of a fundraising campaign undertaken by Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church in Mountain Brook, which commemorated its 70th anniversary by eliminating $8.1 million in medical debts throughout the Birmingham metro area and its surrounding counties.

The Episcopal Diocese of Alabama quickly got on board, donating just more than $10,000 to kick off fundraising efforts. The church then raised $68,000 more, mostly from parishioners, though others in the community pitched in as well, Nations said. Because hospitals sell off unpaid bills at discounted rates, the church and RIP Medical Debt were able to buy $8.1 million in debt for just $78,000.

Recipients of the debt forgiveness were selected by RIP Medical Debt based on a series of criteria, which prioritized households rendered insolvent by medical debt, as well as households existing near or below the poverty line. The church also could purchase only debt still owned by hospitals; debts already sold to collection agencies were, unfortunately, off-limits, Nations said.

The Rev. Cameron Nations is an associate rector at Saint Luke’s and organizer of the fundraiser.

If your church is interested there is information about RIP Medical Debt here and here.

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