ATLANTA (AP) – A political organization led by renowned Democrat Stacy Abrams is expanding to pay off medical debts.
The Fair Fight Political Action Committee on Wednesday told The Associated Press that it donated $ 1.34 million from its Political Action Committee to the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt to pay off a $ 212 million debt owed to 108,000 people in Georgia, Arizona. , Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Lauren Gro-Vargo, CEO of Fair Fight Action Allied Group and Senior Advisor to PAC, said that paying off medical debt is another aspect of the group’s efforts to expand Medicaid coverage in 12 states that have refused to extend health coverage to all poor adults. …
“What’s so important about this is the link between the expansion of Medicaid and the enormous medical debt,” said Gro-Vargo.
Of the target states, Medicaid expanded into Arizona and Louisiana.
Fair Fight said letters will be sent to those whose debts have been cleared to notify them. The purchase will forgive the debts of nearly 69,000 people in Georgia, over 27,000 people in Arizona, over 8,000 people in Louisiana, and about 2,000 people in Mississippi and Alabama.
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The group has raised over $ 100 million since Abrams founded it after losing the 2018 Georgia governor’s election. The fair fight was best known for its advocacy of the right to vote, but it also promoted wider health care. The group launched an advertisement last week demanding that Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp add the Medicaid expansion to a list of topics Georgia lawmakers will consider in a special meeting starting next week to change constituencies. Democrats hope Abrams will run against Kemp again in 2022. A minor defeat to Kemp in 2018 brought Abrams to political stardom.
“I know firsthand how, due to medical costs and an ineffective healthcare system, families are increasingly falling into debt,” Abrams said in a statement. “Around the world and in the south, this problem is escalating in states like Georgia, where failed leaders rudely refused to expand Medicaid even during a pandemic.”
RIP Medical Debt announced that Fair Fight is making the third largest donation in its history. Philanthropist Mackenzie Scott donated $ 50 million to the group last year. Since its founding in 2014, the group has helped over 3 million people, typically purchasing medical debt packages at deep discounts off par. Bills are often bought from collection agencies that have spent years trying to get debtors to pay. The group paid off debts with a par value of more than $ 5.3 billion.
Allison Sesso, executive director of the RIP Medical Debt, said such liabilities often lead people to bankruptcy, can deter people from seeking necessary medical care, and can lead to withholding wages or liens.
“I would not underestimate the mental suffering of people due to medical debts,” Sesso said.
Sesso said her group is not just seeking debt relief, “but thinking about how we can improve the system nationwide,” trying to advocate for hospitals to do more to make philanthropic care available. She also said research shows that Extended Medicaid has lower levels of medical debt.
“We’re not a permanent solution,” Sesso said. “A broader solution is needed about what we do with our health care debt.”
Gro-Vargo said the money was provided by donors for political action, but said the money represented “only a small percentage” of what Fair Fight raised.
“I believe this is a political tithe to help the community that we stand for and for which we stand,” said Gro-Vargo, stating that the group is making less philanthropic efforts.