Thanks to a partnership between a non-profit organization known as F.A.I.T.H founded by Patricia Gant and a national group known as RIP Medical Debt, some low-income Alabamians will have their medical debts forgiven. 21 percent of Alabamians have medical debt in collection, according to the Urban Institute.
Gant started the non-profit after she survived a serious car accident nearly 20 years ago. Her goal was to help forgive $2.2 million of debt for Alabama and Georgia residents. “People, I’m telling you, they are in need. And medical bills are wiping people out,” she said.
“I broke my back in two places in 2001. And when that happened, I had insurance, and I thought about people that did not have insurance,”
RIP Medical Debt was founded in 2014 by two veterans from the debt-buying industry. The group says it has forgiven over a billion dollars in debt for more than half a million families across the United States. RIP Medical Debt buys debts at low rates and forgives $100 for every local dollar raised. The Gants have raised about half of their $22,000 goal. Their campaign ends on February 28.
In Birmingham, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church partnered with RIP Medical Debt this fall to forgive $8.1 million of debt for nearly 6,500 families across 14 counties in Alabama. The church’s parishioners, the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama and members of other churches pitched in $78,000 of the funds.
“This is just a small way we could provide hope and a second chance to help people get back on their feet after something like that,” said Cameron Nations, the Associate Rector at St Luke’s.
“People really got energized by it and we ended up fundraising way, way, way more than we ever thought.”
Some of Alabama’s low-income residents with medical debt in collections will soon receive a letter telling them that their debt has been paid. That’s thanks to Gant’s non-profit, churches, and RIP Medical Debt.
Dakota Layton graduated from the University of Alabama in Huntsville with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. He is currently enrolled at the University of Mississippi where he is working to earn his Master of Arts in Philosophy.