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This is how a non-profit is hoping to wipe out medical debt in Milwaukee County

An effort to erase millions of dollars in medical debt for Milwaukee County residents is moving forward.
medical debt
Posted at 3:58 PM, Jan 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-19 19:50:14-05

MILWAUKEE -- An effort to erase millions of dollars in medical debt for Milwaukee County residents is moving forward.

The American Rescue Plan Act task force voted Thursday to send this initiative to the finance committee, and if they approve it, to the full county board.

RELATED COVERAGE: Plan to erase medical debt in Milwaukee County moves forward

Milwaukee County Supervisor Shawn Rolland proposed the resolution, which asks for $1.6 million in ARPA money to wipe out that $153 million in medical debt.

We wanted to know more about this non-profit our local government may soon make a deal with.

We spoke to one patient who recently had more than $600 in medical bills wiped.

This is the letter Steve Isola just opened from RIP Medical Debt:


"Sure enough the debt is gone. It blew my mind!" said Isola. "At first, I thought it was a scam. I was just thinking, 'who in their right mind would pay off $663 in medical debt?'"

But it is real. The nonprofit helped a Tuscon, Arizona man. He said, "Oh, it helps immensely with finances getting tight, the economy, where it's at obviously. It helps with groceries, it helps with (a) house payment, car payment."

Since 2014, the non-profit has used donations to wipe away medical debt in large bundles, for pennies on the dollar. The non-profit works directly with hospitals to find patients in need.

David Eager is a retired healthcare finance executive and ambassador for RIP Medical Debt. He said, "So the average is for every dollar that's donated $100 of medical debt can be abolished."

Eager spoke before the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors subcommittee on Thursday. He estimated the $1.6 million in extra ARPA Funds the county has would help RIP Medical Debt wipe about $153 million in debt for people.

"But if it's more than $153 million that's in there, then RIP would access their own funds to make sure that all of the debt that they are considering would be abolished," he said.

He told the supervisors the non-profit is already in talks with about a dozen hospitals in our state. He would not identify them just yet.

In order for a patient to qualify:

  • Your family must make less than $111,000 per year or $55,000 for individuals.
  • Your debt has to be at least five percent of your annual income.

Eager admits the efforts of this non-profit may only be a bandaid for people drowning in debt.

"This is not the endgame solution," he said. "We really need to have a broader conversation on how healthcare cost is in general."

But for the one in three Americans who struggle to afford the cost of their medical care, according to this non-profit, it could mean all the difference.

To learn more, donate, or for further debt resources, visit RIP Medical Debt's website.

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