Fair Fight Action announced early Wednesday, October 27, that it has donated $1.34 million to the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt. The money will be used to wipe out the medical debts of over 100,000 people in Georgia, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Combined, their debt has a face value of $212 million.
The money comes from the political action committee of Fair Fight Action, which is led by former Democratic Representative Stacey Abrams. She founded it in 2018, after losing the race for Governor of Georgia. Fair Fight’s primary goal is protecting voting rights, but it regards access to health care as an aspect of that.
Fair Fight also advocates for Medicaid expansion to cover all adults below a certain income level. Only two of the five states included in this wave of debt relief have any manner of expanded Medicaid at all.
“What is so important about this is the tie between Medicaid expansion and just crushing medical debt,” said Lauren Groh-Wargo, CEO of Fair Fight Action.
Letters will be sent informing those whose debts have been paid off. The $1.34 million has purchased the debt of 69,000 people in Georgia, 27,000 in Arizona, over 8,000 in Louisiana, and approximately 2,000 each in Mississippi and Alabama.
“I know firsthand how medical costs and a broken healthcare system put families further and further in debt,” Abrams said in a statement. “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.”
With previous donations by people like MacKenzie Scott, who gave the organization $50 million in 2020, RIP Medical Debt has so far helped over 3 million people since its founding in 2014. The takeaway from this should very much not be that philanthropy is the solution to medical debt–but that we should be critically ashamed, as a country, that a single nonprofit has had to help one percent of the entire U.S. adult population out of debt.