Nonprofit charity R.I.P. Medical Debt, which buys and absolves people’s health care debt in bulk, has wiped away $700 million since its inception in 2014 — and that number should hit $1 billion later this year, co-founders Jerry Ashton and Craig Antico told me.

How it works: R.I.P. Medical Debt rose to fame in 2016 after it helped comedian John Oliver forgive $15 million of medical debt.

  • Hospitals pursue patients' bills, occasionally threatening legal action, but if they think it's a lost cause, they sell the uncollected debt to debt buyers for pennies on the dollar.
  • Debt buyers become the new collectors, and they "get very aggressive," said Ashton, who used to work in the bill collections industry but now calls himself a "predatory giver."
  • R.I.P. Medical Debt jumps in and buys the debt from the debt buyers using donated funds, and immediately abolishes the debt.
  • The organization focuses on the poor: debtors have to earn less than twice the federal poverty level, are insolvent, or have medical debt that makes up at least 5% of their annual income.

What they're saying: "There's no such thing as great health insurance," Ashton said. "If you and I think this paper-thin safety net of insurance is going to save us, that's not going to be the case."

Go deeper: "A drop in the bucket" of medical debt

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Biden releases 2019 tax returns ahead of debate

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign released his 2019 tax returns on Tuesday, showing that he and his wife, Jill, paid nearly $300,000 in federal taxes last year.

Why it matters: The release, timed just hours before the first presidential debate, comes days after a bombshell New York Times report said that President Trump paid only $750 in federal taxes in 2016 and 2017. Biden's team is hoping to make the tax contrast a sticking point during their showdown.

Updated 28 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 33,443,701 — Total deaths: 1,003,337 — Total recoveries: 23,200,183Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 7,159,222 — Total deaths: 205,345 — Total recoveries: 2,794,608 — Total tests: 102,342,416Map.
  3. Health: Americans won't take Trump's word on the vaccine, Axios-Ipsos poll finds.
  4. States: NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June.
  5. Sports: Tennessee Titans close facility amid NFL's first coronavirus outbreak.
  6. World: U.K. beats previous record for new coronavirus cases.

NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

New York City's coronavirus positivity rate has ticked up to 3.25%, its highest since June, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The jump — from 1.93% on Monday — came on the first day that public elementary classrooms reopened in the city after months of closures, but guidelines state that all public schools will have to shut if the citywide seven-day positivity rate stays above 3%.