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US Stacey Abrams Group Donates $1 Million to Medical Debt Relief—Here's Who Qualifies

20:50  27 october  2021
20:50  27 october  2021 Source:   newsweek.com

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Stacey Abrams' political organization Fair Fight Action has donated $1.3 million to a non-profit group to pay off the medical debts of more than 100,000 people across five states.

Former US Representative and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams is introduced before speaking at a Souls to the Polls rally supporting Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on October 17, 2021 in Norfolk, Virginia. © Zach Gibson/Getty Images Former US Representative and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams is introduced before speaking at a Souls to the Polls rally supporting Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on October 17, 2021 in Norfolk, Virginia.

The group, led by the Georgia voting rights activist and 2018 gubernatorial candidate, told the Associated Press it had given the money from its political action committee to RIP Medical Debt, in order to help clear debt of $212 million that is owed by 108,000 people in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.

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According to RIP Medical Debt's website, people must meet at least one of three criteria to qualify to have their payments cleared. They must:

  • Earn less than two times the federal poverty level, which varies depending on state and family size
  • Have debts that are 5 percent or more of annual income
  • Face insolvency, meaning their debts are greater than their assets.

"We never collect on debt we purchase, only relieve it," RIP Medical Debt states on the website. People cannot apply for their debt to be cleared by the organization. Instead it acquires large portfolios of debt in order to help thousands of people at once.

Fair Fight Action said letters would be sent to the people whose debts will be forgiven. The donation will clear the debt of nearly 69,000 people in Georgia, more than 27,000 in Arizona, more than 8,000 in Louisiana, and 2,000 in both Mississippi and Alabama.

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Abrams' group said there was a greater need to cancel debts because 12 states had refused to adopt a Medicaid expansion that would extend health care to millions of poor people.

Of the five states whose residents are being assisted with Fair Fight's donations, only Arizona and Louisiana have expanded Medicaid eligibility under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

"I know firsthand how medical costs and a broken health care system put families further and further in debt," Abrams said in a statement.

"Across the sunbelt and in the South, this problem is exacerbated in states like Georgia where failed leaders have callously refused to expand Medicaid, even during a pandemic."

In a tweet on Tuesday, Abrams added: "Millions of Americans lack access to affordable health coverage because their states have refused to expand Medicaid. We must #CloseTheCoverageGap to ensure access to healthcare, no matter where you live."

Michelle Obama, Stacey Abrams team up, issue call to action on voting rights

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Allison Sesso, executive director of RIP Medical Debt, told the AP the group was also considering "how we can improve the system nationwide" in order to stop people getting into financial difficulties because of medical treatment in the first place.

"We are not the permanent solution," Sesso said. "There does need to be a larger solution around what we do about medical debt."

Fair Fight has been contacted for further comment.

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