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Mid-Kentucky Presbytery churches help Kentuckians eliminate more than $4.5 million in medical debt

Presbytery partners with RIP Medical Debt during a summertime donor campaign

by Mid-Kentucky Presbytery | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Photo by Jonathan Sebastiao via Unsplash

LOUISVILLE — Presbyterian church members became passionate about the plight of medical debtors who can’t afford their medical bills after learning about a debt relief effort offered by the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt organization. Through a donor campaign launched in their churches over the summer, together they raised enough money to abolish $4,577,749.43 of medical debt for thousands of Kentucky residents.

According to a report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, medical bills account for 69% of furnished collections (debt collectors who collect on behalf of original creditors for a fee), followed by telecommunications at 12.5% and utilities at 4.5%.

Recipients of medical debt relief will be notified with a RIP Medical Debt branded letter over the next week or two.

RIP acquires medical debts from hospitals and debt collectors on the secondary debt market. The nonprofit only purchases medical debts belonging to people who are four times or more below the federal poverty level or who have medical debt that is 5% or more of their gross annual income. Medical debt relief is source-driven, and therefore random, and cannot be requested. Thus, recipients are completely surprised when they learn their debt has been abolished.

“Not only are the debts abolished, RIP Medical Debt restores their credit scores,” said Daniel Lempert, speaking for RIP Medical Debt. “This allows them to move forward with their lives in many positive ways.”

Steve Makela, chair of the Mid-Kentucky Presbytery Board of Trustees, was inspired to initiate the program as he became more deeply aware of the great discrepancy in the billing practices of health care providers regarding those with good insurance versus those without that support. Most importantly, he said, “this effort further demonstrates our concern for the broader needs of all individuals throughout our communities, much like the installation of free car-charging stations in some of our church parking lots have done.”

The Rev. Dr. John L. Odom, General Presbyter of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery, said, “The Presbyterians of central Kentucky want to bring financial wholeness because people shouldn’t be forced to choose between life and health and potential bankruptcy. We pray every week in the Lord’s Prayer for God ‘to forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors.’ Working to wipe away the medical debt of others is a sure way to put our prayers into action.”

Mid-Kentucky Presbytery, a regional governing body of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is composed of 47 congregations in 29 counties in the center of the Commonwealth. To learn more, go here.

RIP Medical Debt is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2014 by two former debt collectors. To date RIP has acquired — and abolished — more than $9 billion of medical debt, helping more than 6 million families. RIP purchases debts for a fraction of their face value in bundled portfolios. Learn more here.

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