Robert Goff (left) and Jerry Ashton.

When Robert E. Goff and I decided to co-author a book employing our collective knowledge of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the medical and debt collections industries to expose their inequities and shortfalls, we had no idea of the amount of work — I mean teamwork — that would be required.

At the start we only shared the quality other would-be authors have in abundance: Passion.

Robert and could only guess at the public reception to a book dealing with the pain inflicted on fellow Americans by the medical, pharma, insurance, and collections industries. Would the response be tepid or heated? Would our readers ignore our call for education and action, or would people reach for the pitchforks and torches?

The weeks, months and years will reveal that response because on February 1, 2016, Hoku House published The Patient, The Doctor and The Bill Collector.

As for the teamwork, any scribe will tell you sitting in front of the keyboard is only a start, albeit a good one. We agreed to write alternating chapters and set to work. The interesting part came when we faced what to do with what we produced on all those pages? We found the need for copy reading, indexing, annotating, pagination, interior design, cover design, a savvy publisher, printers, promotional pieces, a website, and then book marketing. Oh my.

With the final product in our hands, the two of us can say that it was all worth it. This doesn’t answer the question of why we went through this expensive, lengthy and time-consuming process. The answer is found in that quality we share with other authors: Passion.

Our passion is bringing the inequities of America’s “medical system” to light in language as clear and forceful  as possible, so anyone reading The Patient, The Doctor and The Bill Collector might have at least one  “Ah ha!” moment. We felt driven to offer remedies, and we wanted to ask “how to”less  than “how come?”

How come we have the most expensive medical system in the world? How come our big-government, big-carrier apparatus seems designed to deliver industry profits rather than truly affordable medical care? How come  among American citizens seeking bankruptcy protection, more than 60 percent list medical bills as the reason driving them to take this drastic step?

How come, indeed!

Our passion for a remedy had to be slaked. We didn’t want to just write about the problem. We decided to take the lead in showing our readers at least one path towards solving the problem. Out of this came the launch of a charity we named RIP Medical Debt.

The intention is grand: Raise enough money in contributions from generous-hearted Americans who enable us to go out to the medical debt buying industries and hospitals, buy unpaid debt before it reaches the desk of one more bill collector, and then abolish the debt!  Yep,vanished, and with no obligation to the patient benefited, and no adverse tax effects, either.

Teamwork was required here, as well, and gratefully welcomed. We engaged with Craig Antico, CEO and co-founder of RIP Medical Debt, founded as am IRS-recognized 501(c)3) not-for-profit charity registered in New York. I am the co-founder, and Robert Goff  is on the board, which includes the sympathetic members of the collections and debt buying industries who help us put in place the infrastructure for debt forgiveness.

Once RIP was set to abolish medical debt, we had to buy “medical receivables.” Brent Wise, MD, was the first physician contributing debt to be abolished. He’s a former NYU School of Medicine Chief, Section of Infectious Diseases and NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases.

Thanks to Bob Parks and Laura Erickson of BlackAndBlondeMedia, and sympathetic members of the debt buying industry, our attention was brought to the plight of America’s veterans and active-duty military, who often are afflicted with unpaid medical debt.

Vets are deep in medical debt to the tune of $1,000,000,000 — $1 billion, actually more.

We promptly set out to address this problem, starting with a military and veterans checkbox on our donation page. Sirius XM radio recognized us for attention to veterans though two interviews of Craig Antico and me by conservative host David Webb and progressive host Richard Ungar.

Having established at this point that we talk the talk (book), and walk the walk (charity), our next team-building challenge is finding good people who share our values and interests. This may start with purchasing the book, visiting the book website, exploring the RIP site, or making a donation.

Are you ready to perform a random act of kindness? Then welcome aboard, and thank you for helping us perform our mission:

Abolishing Medical Debt. For Good.