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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.

Go deeper

Inside Stacey Abrams' 2022 strategy

Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

In her first major interview since Stacey Abrams entered the governor's race, campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo sums up to Axios the "organizing principle" behind her boss' second bid for Georgia's highest office:

  • "People are in historic pain through this pandemic that has driven and furthered racial and income inequality in our state."

Why it matters: More than three years after she narrowly lost to incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp, Abrams' second run at the seat will happen in a vastly different environment.

Dec 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.

37 mins ago - World

Australia joins U.S. in diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Australia is joining the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games in protest of human rights abuses committed by China's government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday.

Driving the news: After the Biden administration's announcement that U.S. officials won't attend the Games due to the ongoing genocide of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region of China, Morrison said at a Sydney briefing that Australia would follow suit as "it's the right thing to do."