Councilman Bobby Wilson Passes Legislation to Authorize Contract with RIP Medical Debt to Abolish Pittsburghers’ Medical Debt

 

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Pittsburgh, PA (August 1, 2023)—Pittsburgh City Councilman Bobby Wilson (District 1) passed legislation at today’s Regular Meeting of Pittsburgh City Council to enter into an agreement with Rest In Peace Medical Debt (RIPMD) to purchase and discharge eligible health care debt owed by Pittsburghers.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 58% of debts recorded in collections were for a medical bill. This makes health care debt the most common form of debt on consumer credit records and the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States of America. Many Pittsburghers with health care debt are uninsured or underinsured and are experiencing financial hardship in the wake of COVID-19. In addition, black and brown communities in Pittsburgh have been disproportionately impacted both financially and medically by COVID-19 and resulting health care debts.

The passage of this legislation today will allow the City of Pittsburgh to contract with RIPMD to allocate up to $1 million dollars from the City’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) Trust Fund towards this purpose. RIPMD has calculated that an allocation of $1 million could discharge an estimated $115 million of health care debt owed by thousands of Pittsburghers. “Providing relief at this scale, where $1 can discharge up to $115 of burdensome medical debt, is plain common sense. Coming out of a global pandemic, Pittsburghers deserve such direct relief. I am proud to have passed this legislation to enter a contract with RIPMD make Pittsburgh a national leader in reducing the burden of medical debt on our citizens,” said Councilman Wilson.

Because RIPMD purchases qualifying medical debt—belonging to those most in financial need—in bundled portfolios for a fraction of their face value, one dollar can abolish $100 or more of medical debt. Debts are sourced directly from providers like hospitals and physician groups, as well as from the secondary debt market, including collection agencies and debt buyers. The next steps for this medical debt relief program in Pittsburgh will be RIPMD signing a contract with the City of Pittsburgh, RIPMD approaching local hospitals to source eligible medical debt, and then the City’s announcement of medical debt relief for eligible Pittsburghers. If all goes as planned, medical debt relief recipients will receive correspondence from RIPMD, in a RIPMD-branded envelope, that will describe their outstanding medical debt and share the news of its abolition. Medical debt relief cannot be requested, and its recipients will be identified by health care providers.

“Medical debt burdens over 100 million people in this country and disproportionally impacts those most disenfranchised, like people of color and those with chronic conditions,” notes Allison Sesso, RIPMD’s CEO and president. “We’re grateful that Pittsburgh City Council is focusing on this issue, and we are excited there is so much interest in bringing our model to Pittsburgh.”

Deputy Mayor Jake Pawlak and his team at the City of Pittsburgh’s Office of Management and Budget were instrumental in identifying RIPMD as a vendor for providing medical debt relief to Pittsburghers. Upon passage of this legislation, Mr. Pawlak added, “Pittsburgh residents should not end up in debt while taking care of their health. Councilman Wilson’s medical debt relief initiative will provide relief for those battling collections actions that sometimes worsen their health. This will reduce eligible health care debt for the people who make Pittsburgh their home.”

For press inquiries, please contact Councilman Wilson’s Chief of Staff, Mohammed Burny, at (412) 215-0528 or mohammed.burny@pittsburghpa.gov.

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