Oct 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Stacey Abrams' organization donates $1.34 million to pay off medical debt

Photo of Stacey Abrams speaking from a podium on an outdoor stage

Voting rights activist Stacey Abrams speaks during a get out the vote rally. Photo: Eze Amos via Getty Images

The political organization led by voting rights activist Stacey Abrams is donating $1.34 million to the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt as part of an effort to wipe out medical debt.

Why it matters: The money will go towards settling over $210 million in debt owed by 108,000 people in Georgia, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, Abrams' organization, Fair Fight, said. It's also an extension of the group's push to promote full Medicaid expansion across the U.S.

Details: Fear of high medical costs and potential debt often cause people to forsake necessary care, Fair Fight noted.

  • Medical debt accrual has declined in states that have expanded Medicaid, Fair Fight said in a release, yet Republicans continue to block full Medicaid expansion, refuse free federal funding and deprive "roughly four million people of meaningful health coverage."

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

  • "Working with RIP Medical Debt, Fair Fight is stepping in where others have refused to take action," she added. "For people of color, the working poor and middle-class families facing crushing costs, we hope to relieve the strain on desperate Americans and on hospitals struggling to remain open."
  • People whose debts will be relieved through Fair Fight's donation will receive a letter of notification in the coming days.

The big picture: A higher percentage of households in the South report having medical debt compared to the West, Midwest and Northeast, according to data from a 2018 U.S. Census Bureau survey.

  • 8.5% of households without full health insurance report a high medical debt burden compared to 2.9% of fully insured households.
  • Black and Hispanic communities are also more likely to carry medical debt compared to white people.
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