Church News

Local Church Partners to Pay $761K in Medical Debt for Granite Staters
- 6-5-20

Over 700 Families Have Had Medical Debt Forgiven
Imagine facing a medical debt so large you have no hope of paying it. Even so, you are facing non-stop phone calls and collection letters that are a constant reminder of the money you owe. Then one day you receive another letter in the mail.

It reads: We are pleased to inform you that you no longer owe this debt to your provider.

That is exactly what has happened for over 700 families in New Hampshire over the past two months, thanks to the efforts of three New Hampshire churches in partnership with a fourth church in California, all working with a non-profit, RIP Medical Debt. Together they were able to wipe out all qualifying medical debt in the state totaling $761,514.29 for 709 households.

In January of this year, Grace Capital Church in Pembroke, NH learned of a church in California, Christian Assembly in Los Angeles, that was offering to match up to $10K each for ten churches willing to work in their state to identify and forgivemedical debt for qualified families through RIP Medical Debt, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

“This was something we had not known about previously. We were excited at the prospect of doing something that would have such a positive impact on so many New Hampshire families,” said Pastor Mark Warren of Grace Capital.

Learning of the opportunity Raymond Baptist Church joined Grace Capital and Exeter Presbyterian Church to partner together to address the problem. “The opportunity to partner with churches of other denominations was one we all welcomed.” Together they identified all the qualifying families in the state and their associated medical debtthat averaged over $1,000 per household.Locally that meant over $160,000 for qualifying families in Rockingham County. Then they paid it. As Mark put it, “These families are among our most vulnerable – not only are they struggling with real medical issues, they are working hard just to feed and house their families.  They didn’t incur their debt out of choice, but out of necessity. To be able to wipe out these bills is an incredible gift not only to them, but to us.”

And “wiping out” means exactly that. RIP Medical Debt is dedicated to buying debt for individuals in or near the poverty level and paying it off with donations. Because RIP Medical Debt is a 501(c)(3), the funds used to purchase and forgive the debt are not counted as income for the recipient and are not taxable. The nonprofit purchases medical debt at pennies on the dollar, so donors win as well by seeing their donations greatly multiplied. RIP Medical Debt also works with recipients to repair their credit reports damaged by the debt to give them greater access to resources to help them build and recover.

The letters sent to the families simply told them their debt was forgiven “by a partnership of caring churches in New Hampshire.”By working together, these three New Hampshire churches also benefited. “Now we’re in closer relationship and can celebrate and serve together, as Jesus intended the church to be.”

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