Tucson Church Raises Funds to Pay Medical Debt for Approximately 1,700 Local Households | Local News

The New York-based nonprofit, founded in 2014, buys wads of uncollected medical debt for pennies — sometimes fractions of pennies — on the dollar and then wipes them off. Debtors receive letters telling them that their obligations have been cancelled.

The organization has been featured in The New York Times and USA Today and on “PBS NewsHour” and “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.” Hendrickson said it has become a popular outlet for charitable giving from churches nationwide, although St. Philip’s has vetted the organization carefully before soliciting its services.

For one thing, it’s hard to beat the return on investment: Every dollar raised can pay off $100 in medical debt.

“What we’re really doing is taking the backs off people who owe money,” Hendrickson said.

Relief from such crippling debt can free up a family to save money for a rainy day, or to fund a child’s college, buy a new car to get to work, or fix enough credit to one day buy a house.

Hendrickson said he’d like to find a way to do so much good without giving money to “debt collection middlemen,” but that’s just the way things work right now.

“The system is flawed and no one is smart enough to say they have the perfect solution. I certainly am not,” he said.

The church launched the fundraising campaign on January 25 and achieved its goals in just over two months, despite the closure of in-person worship services from March 15.

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