Toledo City Council ordinance could eliminate medical debt for around 25,000 Toledoans

Published: Sep. 5, 2022 at 6:19 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Toledo City Council is set to hear an ordinance Tuesday that could relieve up to $200 million of medical debt for Toledo residents. If passed, the measure could help around 25,000 people.

The funding would come from the American Rescue Plan Act, not from tax dollars. City council would partner with RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit group that works to purchase and wipe out medical debt.

Councilwoman Michele Grim is sponsoring the ordinance. She says it’s a win for everyone. But how would it work exactly?

“It’s allocating $1.4 million of our ARPA funds, that’s less than one percent of our ARPA funds,” says Councilwoman Grim. “The way that medical debt is bought it’s bought pennies on the dollar. So that’s how $1.4 million dollars can wipe out $180 to $200 million dollars of medical debt.”

RIP Medical Debt will work with hospitals to purchase debt in bundles at a discounted rate, therefore eliminating medical debt for many people. The longer debt goes unpaid, the cheaper it is for RIP Medical Debt to purchase. Grim says that could wipe out decades of debt.

“I don’t know what better way that would stimulate economic recovery than eliminating people’s medical debt,” says Grim.

And she adds this can be life-changing for many Toledoans.

“It means putting food on the table. It means improving credit scores. It means going back to the doctor because they don’t have bills that they can’t pay.”

13abc asked people on Facebook what they thought of this ordinance and many people were in favor of it. One Facebook user said it could really help her family, saying, “I had a $3500 hospital bill come in for my son, it dropped my credit over a hundred points right in the middle of a huge life change. It stopped me dead in my tracks. We might owe, but we sure don’t deserve that! It was an emergency!”

Some Facebook users were worried about where the money would come from. Grim says because it’s from ARPA funding, taxpayers would not be paying off the debt. Plus, you never know what the future may hold for you or a loved one.

“It’s not anyone’s fault that they get sick. It’s not anyone’s fault that they get injured. It’s not anyone’s fault that maybe their anesthesiologist for their surgery is out of network,” says Grim. “Everybody has the potential to have medical debt.”

Tuesday is the agenda meeting for Toledo City Council, so they’ll discuss this ordinance then. A vote could come as early as next week.

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