I-TEAM: Medical debt forgiveness arrives for area patients

I-TEAM: Medical debt forgiveness arrives for area patients
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 6:02 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Medical debt forgiveness has come to our community.

For months we’ve been telling about the medical debt forgiveness plan funded by the City of Toledo and Lucas County. Now we’re hearing from patients who’ve actually received the debt forgiveness as a total surprise.

Medical debt brings a huge burden to people. Shannon Burks now has one less burden after medical debt actually landed her briefly behind bars.

When the letter came to Burks’ home telling her some of her medical debt would be forgiven, she almost never read it.

“I had actually set it to the side for the junk pile to be shredded,” said Burks.

A second look revealed her $543 debt dating back to 2016 would be forgiven. The I-Team asked her if she thought the letter was a scam at first.

“I did at first, yeah, I did but I have a zero balance with one of my medical bills so that part is not a scam,” said Burks.

This project spearheaded by RIP Medical Debt, a company buying medical debt for pennies on the dollar and forgiving it. RIP recently acquired $7.22 million of Mercy Health debt which would relieve the debt of 4917 patients.

RIP told the I-Team this week that in that process they also acquired debt that fell outside of Toledo and Lucas County and forgave it.

For example, Burks was living in Archbold in 2016 and this debt tracks back to a Fulton County Health Center visit.

Medical debt there has derailed her before. Just last week she went to jail on a bench warrant after a civil suit brought by Futon County Health Center for a debt case dating back to 2019.

“I didn’t even know I had been subpoenaed or whatever you call it to court I didn’t even realize I had a court date,” said Burks.

“Yes, yes, it’s public record, it’s there, it’s true. Fulton county medical center.”

This debt is gone, with a letter hopefully more people will soon see.

RIP Medical Debt has not sent an invoice to Toledo or Lucas County to fund all this. The company is using its own funds right now and plans to recoup the funds at a later time.