ATLANTA – The political organization led by Georgian Democrat Stacey Abrams is diversifying into the reimbursement of medical debts.
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Fair Fight Action announced on Wednesday that it had donated $ 1.34 million from its Political Action Committee to the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt to write off a debt with a face value of $ 212 million owed by 108,000 people in Georgia, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Fair Fight Action CEO Lauren Groh-Wargo said paying off medical debt is another facet of the group’s advocacy to expand Medicaid coverage in the 12 states that have refused to extend health insurance to all. poorest adults.
âWhat’s so important about this is the connection between the expansion of Medicaid and the crushing of medical debt,â Groh-Wargo said.
Among the targeted states, Arizona and Louisiana have expanded Medicaid.
Fair Fight said letters will be sent to those whose debts have been discharged to notify them. The purchase will write off the debt of nearly 69,000 people in Georgia, more than 27,000 people in Arizona, more than 8,000 people in Louisiana and approximately 2,000 people each in Mississippi and Alabama.
The group has raised more than $ 100 million since Abrams founded it after his 2018 loss in the race for governor of Georgia. Fair Fight was best known for defending voting rights, but also lobbied for broader healthcare. The group launched announcements last week demanding that Republican Georgia Governor Brian Kemp add the Medicaid extension to the list of topics Georgian lawmakers will consider in a special session starting next week to redraw electoral districts . Democrats are hoping Abrams will run against Kemp again in 2022, a narrow loss that has propelled her to political stardom.
âI know firsthand how medical bills and a failing health care system make families more indebted,â Abrams said in a statement. âAcross the solar belt and into the South, this problem is exacerbated in states like Georgia, where failing leaders have ruthlessly refused to expand Medicaid, even during a pandemic. “
RIP Medical Debt said Fair Fight is making the third largest donation in its history. Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott gave the group $ 50 million last year. The group has helped more than 3 million people since its inception in 2014, typically buying bundles of medical debt at steep discounts from face value. Invoices are often purchased from collection agencies who have been trying to get debtors to pay for years. The group has written off debt with a face value of more than $ 5.3 billion.
Allison Sesso, executive director of RIP Medical Debt, said such responsibilities often lead people to bankruptcy, can deter people from seeking needed medical care, and can result in wage garnishment or lien filing. goods.
âI wouldn’t underestimate the mental angst people have over medical debt,â Sesso said.
Sesso said his group was not just looking to get rid of debt “but was thinking about how we can improve the system nationwide,” trying to advocate for hospitals to do more to make charitable care available. She also said research shows that expanded Medicaid member states have lower medical debt rates.
âWe are not the permanent solution,â Sesso said. “There has to be a bigger solution around what we’re doing about medical debt.”
Groh-Wargo said the money was donated by donors for political action, but said the money is “only a small percentage” of what Fair Fight has raised.
âI see this as a political tithe to help the community we defend and with which we defend,â Groh-Wargo said, saying the group has been making charitable efforts on a smaller scale.
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