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RIP Medical Debt: Omaha church helps pay millions in medical expenses through unique partnership

Published: Feb. 17, 2021 at 11:40 AM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Millions of dollars worth of medical debt, gone in an instant.

Whether you consider it an early Christmas gift or a late Valentine’s gesture, this act of kindness is likely unforgettable and its being done through generous donors and an organization called RIP Medical Debt.

“They are just doing a terrific ministry, said Greg Griffith, lead pastor at King of Kings Church.

Griffith said he learned that other churches were working with the organization to cover overdue medical bills of impoverished communities across the country and he had to be a part of it.

Here’s how it works. RIP Medical Debt contacts medical providers to buy past due accounts before they go to collections. They in-turn partner with churches and donors who give large financial contributions and forgive the remaining medical balance, effectively canceling that debt for the former patient.

The program is so successful because the money is stretched exponentially. For every $100 donation, $10,000 of medical debt is forgiven.

Pastor Greg said his congregation recognizes they’re in a position to help others and believes the bible calls them to do just that, but pandemic made it tougher to find ways to fulfill their plan because of certain restrictions.

His focus was on a tangible, physical way, the church could make a difference in the lives of as many as it could and health care was the perfect opportunity.

“Health care is an issue. Medical debt is an issue and people are going to the hospital totally unexpectedly because of this global pandemic and so we felt this would be a great way to say, ‘Let us help you.’ ”

Their help came in the form of a $35,000 donation that RIP Medical Debt used to wipe out medical bills for 2700 people, totaling $7.2 million dollars in Nebraska, Iowa, and part of Arizona.

“Especially as a parent I can think about it as that moment where you have the burden and the worry for your family and your child to pay a huge medical bill,” Griffith said. He also wants these contributions to give families a sense of peace and comfort.

Donations from the King of Kings Church congregation of 4,000 will likely help people none of them will ever meet, but Griffith says that is just fine because it’s not about recognition or even receiving a thank you.

“If someone were to do that for me as a complete stranger, that to me just restores a little bit of a sense of how great humanity can be,” he said with a smile.

King of Kings Church is already looking at ways to continue this partnership and find additional opportunities to help midwest communities feel supported and loved through acts of kindness. Beyond this, Griffith also believes if all churches participated in these opportunities, the impact would be immeasurable.

“We could cancel all medical debt, even student loan debt,” he said. “I hope and pray other churches take a look at this model and consider it.”

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