Mercy Health partners with RIP Medical Debt to relieve patient debt in northwest Ohio
Mercy Health and RIP Medical Debt are pleased to announce a new agreement that will help alleviate $7.22 million worth of medical debt for 4,917 area patients currently experiencing financial obligations related to health care costs.
Recipients of debt abolishment for Mercy Health medical services began receiving notification by way of a RIP branded letter beginning in early October.
“Mercy Health has long been supportive of programs that work to relieve community members of stresses related to medical debt and so we are pleased to be the first medical provider in northwest Ohio participating in the solutions set forth by RIP Medical Debt,” said Bob Baxter, president, Mercy Health – Toledo. “With the support of our local elected officials, our patients are relieved of the financial and emotional burden related to debt and Mercy Health is able to recover a portion of that debt to ensure that we can continue to provide our community with high quality, compassionate care.”
RIP is a national nonprofit that uses donated funds to purchase medical debts belonging to financially burdened individuals. To date RIP has acquired — and abolished — more than $10 billion of medical debt, helping over 7 million families and addressing a major social determinant of health.
“We’re extremely grateful to Mercy Health and its leadership for partnering with us to leverage funds from the local government to erase medical debts belonging to those most financially burdened in the community,” said Allison Sesso, president and CEO of RIP Medical Debt. “The City of Toledo and Lucas County are also to be commended for acknowledging the unique burden posed by medical debt and the necessity of clearing it.”
Qualifying past-due (non-governmental) accounts owed to Mercy Health were provided to RIP, which then took ownership of them and — using its proprietary model as a nonprofit — will abolish them. Recipients will have no tax liability for the cancelled debt. Relief is only available to those accounts that qualify (belonging to those four times or below the federal poverty level or for whom debt is 5% or more of annual income) and cannot be requested.
The agreement comes on the heels of an announcement by Toledo City Council and the Lucas County Commissioners, who together allocated $1.6 million to RIP Medical Debt. The funds are earmarked to purchase medical debt from hospitals, health systems, and collection agencies at a discounted rate.
“This is a great day for thousands of people in our community struggling with medical debt,” says State Representative Michele Grim, who spearheaded the local initiative to deliver medical debt relief while serving on Toledo City Council. “Medical debt is a burden that impacts the physical, mental, and financial health of our families. Toledo and Lucas County have stepped up to bring broad-based relief and I applaud Mercy Health for their leadership in becoming the first local provider to embrace this innovative solution to help patients.”
The Lucas County Commissioners added: “Medical debt is an extreme financial burden to millions of Americans. RIP Medical Debt has created an innovative, solutions-based mission to alleviate stress on
working class families that has caught on in cities and counties across the nation. We are proud of our partnership with the City of Toledo and RIP Medical Debt to relieve medical debt for thousands of families in Toledo and Lucas County. We applaud Mercy Health for continuing that work and joining forces with RIP Medical Debt to help even more families overcome the financial strain caused by compounding medical debt.”
“Toledo has always been a community that cares for its own,” said Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz. “I’m thrilled that, following the lead of the City of Toledo and Lucas County, Mercy Health is taking another significant step in relieving the burden of medical debt for our residents. Mercy Health’s partnership with RIP Medical Debt underscores our commitment as a community to the well-being of our neighbors. Together, we are not only easing financial obligations but also fostering a healthier and more compassionate Toledo.”
In addition to working with RIP Medical Debt, Mercy Health hospitals and physician practices will continue to follow ministry-wide financial assistance and billing and collection policies that are in compliance with requirements for all tax-exempt hospitals. However, unlike many health care organizations, Mercy Health does not take any legal action against community members to collect on outstanding patient medical bills.
As a non-profit health care provider, Mercy Health is committed to our Mission is to extend the compassionate ministry of Jesus by improving the health and well-being of our communities and brings good help to those in need, especially people who are poor, dying and underserved. We remain committed to serving all who come to us, regardless of their ability to pay, with compassionate, high-quality care.
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