In hopes of removing some financial burden to some families, St. Mark’s, Austin, forgave over $500k of medical debt with a gift of just over $5,000.
Inspired by St. Luke’s, Mountain Brook in Alabama, who forgave more than $8.1 million in debt and by RIP Medical Debt featured in the Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, a TV series, St. Mark’s vestry decided to donate the surplus of their 2019 operating budget to help fight the same cause.
“We presented this to the parish as a gift from all of us at our annual meeting. Our people were blown away and pumped. It’s probably not the last time we’ll give to RIP Medical Debt,” said the Rev. Zac Koons, rector of St. Mark’s, Austin.
RIP Medical Debt is a tax-exempt charity that buys and abolishes medical debt by working with donors, to abolish debt for a specific target population. The money given to this organization can make an impact of 100x, thus converting St. Mark’s contribution of $5,000 to $500k.
Medical debt is the most common cause of bankruptcy in America, it disproportionally affects society’s most vulnerable, including Texans. RIP Medical Debt uses donations to buy up medical debt for pennies on the dollar, targeting the neediest cases (those who are insolvent, make less than half the federal poverty line, or are military veterans), and then forgives it completely.
“Being the recipients of a radical act of forgiveness that has removed a burden we could never have hoped to pay ourselves, setting us free to live new lives of abundance and grace is kind of what we’re all about as Christians. This was a no-brainer,” said Koons.