Churches Step In Where Politicians Will Not

Why do we need acts of charity to rescue Americans from crushing medical bills?

Vanessa Matos couldn’t believe what she was reading. “I was like, OK, this is a scam,” she recalled of the letter she received in February. Her husband, she said, had the same reaction: “Yeah, this isn’t real.”

But it was. Ms. Matos’s medical debt — more than $900 owed because of complications from surgery at the Massachusetts hospital where she had worked as a nurse — had been relieved by strangers at a church she had never been to.

Adam Mabry, the lead pastor of that congregation, Aletheia Church, a multiethnic, 1,400-member Boston-area Christian community, doesn’t know Ms. Matos, and she doesn’t know him; the two have never spoken. But he told me: “It doesn’t take a theologian to connect the dots. Jesus paid my debt at unbelievable cost to himself, so it probably makes sense for me to pay another person’s debt at some degree of cost to myself.”

Aletheia worked through RIP Medical Debt, a charitable organization founded in 2014 by two former debt collection executives, Craig Antico and Jerry Ashton. It uses donations to buy portfolios of medical debt at a fraction of their value — and then relieves it.

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