Fair Fight, the national voting rights organization founded by Stacey Abrams, announced its action to eliminate over $210 million of medical debt for over 108,000 people across Georgia, Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, and Mississippi through RIP Medical Debt.
The more than 108,000 individuals will receive a letter in the coming days, contained in a yellow envelope, informing them that their debt has been relieved. Fair Fight’s $1.34 million gift is the third-largest in the history of RIP Medical Debt, and the largest gift focused on the South.
“I know firsthand how medical costs and a broken healthcare system put families further and further in debt,” said Stacey Abrams, founder of Fair Fight. “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. Working with RIP Medical Debt, Fair Fight is stepping in where others have refused to take action. 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.”
The debt relief enabled by Fair Fight’s donation amounts to a total sum of $212,781,818 allocated across five states:
- Georgia: $123,193,570.70 million in debt relief for 68,685 individuals
- Louisiana: $17.476,259.35 million in debt relief for 8,265 individuals
- Alabama: $1,857,166.42 million in debt relief for 1,953 individuals
- Mississippi: $2,350,757.12 million in debt relief for 2,058 individuals
- Arizona: $67,904,064.13 million in debt relief for 27,282 individuals
Fair Fight’s medical debt relief initiative is an extension of the organization’s efforts to promote full Medicaid expansion across the country.
Medical debt accrual has declined by 34 percent since 2014 in states that have expanded Medicaid. Meanwhile, rural hospitals are closing at a rate 4.5x higher in states that are refusing Medicaid expansion compared to states that have already expanded it.
Yet Republicans in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and nine additional states continue to block full Medicaid expansion, refusing free federal funding and depriving roughly four million people of meaningful health coverage.
Fear of high medical costs and potential debt causes three-in-ten uninsured adults to go without needed medical care. Uninsured individuals are also less likely to receive preventative care for chronic or major health concerns.
Americans’ combined unpaid medical debt of $141 billion is nearly double estimates from earlier this year. The medical debt burden in the South is 30 percent higher than for Northerners.
One in five American households has unpaid medical debt, the largest source of debt owed to collection agencies. 28 percent of households with a Black householder and 22 percent of households with a householder of Hispanic origin carry medical debt.