Church Pays Off $5 Million of Iowans’ Medical Debt For Christmas

December 20, 2020
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Some Iowans may receive an unexpected holiday gift this year: the freedom from medical debt.

By partnering with a debt-forgiveness charity called RIP Medical Debt, the Capitol Hill Lutheran Church in Des Moines purchased $5 million dollars in medical debt within the state. Reverend Minna Bothwell told the Des Moines Register on Thursday that the idea of making the gesture came from members of her congregation. RIP Medical Debt, a non-profit organization, abolishes large amounts of medical debt after purchasing it at a discount from collection agencies.

Bothwell said she asked RIP Medical Debt “how much money it would take to forgive all the medical debt in Polk County. They responded, ‘With what you have, you could forgive debt in all of Iowa.’”

In a video posted to Facebook in November, Bothwell said that Capitol Hill Lutheran Church “purchased all of Iowa’s medical debt that RIP had access to, a total of $5 million. And we are going to forgive every cent of it.”

Bothwell also announced that her congregation would start a second donation drive in order to purchase all of the medical debt in the neighboring state of Missouri.

“2020 has been a rough year for everyone,” Bothwell told the Register. Hopefully, when people receive this news, they start the year off better with a significant weight off their shoulders.”

According to RIP Medical Debt’s website, the organization purchases medical debt portfolios for individuals near the poverty line. Once the debt is bought and forgiven, the charity sends out forgiveness notices and allows individuals who have been impacted by heavy medical debt to begin rebuilding their credit. As of December 11, RIP Medical Debt has forgiven over $2,923,061,000 in debt.

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