An Orlando congregation based in “Medical City” has cleared more than $3.4 million in medical debt for residents of Orange and Seminole counties – culminating a year-long goal to grant freedom and restore hope to its neighbors.
“We take seriously Jesus’ vision to ‘set the oppressed free,’” pastor Nancy Graham Ogne said. “Medical debt crushes and destabilizes so many people across the nation. We’re especially mindful of this since we’re located in a community billed as Medical City.”
Hope Presbyterian Church at Lake Nona contributed $12,500 in February to the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt, targeting 7-figure debt relief in the county where Hope meets. Since January 2020, Hope has given $21,950 toward medical debt erasure.
Hope Presbyterian launched public worship in 2012, committed to invest in its community and the wider world rather than build expensive buildings. In its 11-year history, Hope has given more than $738,000 outside its doors plus thousands of volunteer hours. The congregation partners with more than 250 nonprofits to enrich the lives of others.
RIP Medical Debt is a nonprofit organization that allows donors to erase the debt of Americans whose lives have been destroyed by medical debt. Founded in 2014 by two former executives with decades of experience in the medical debt collections industry, RIP Medical Debt rose to national prominence on an episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver that has been viewed more than 17 million times, in which RIP Medical Debt facilitated the erasure of $15M in medical debt for only $60,000.
Medical debt abolishment is source-based and unfortunately cannot be requested by individuals. RIP acquires qualifying medical debts from hospitals, physician groups and collection agencies. The nonprofit’s criteria for debt relief are: those with medical debt that are four times or below the federal poverty level or those whose medical debt is 5 percent or more of their annual income.
Those benefiting from medical debt relief will receive an RIP branded envelope in the mail with information on the debt(s) abolished. Letters will start arriving in early April.
“We’re grateful to Hope Presbyterian Church at Lake Nona for their impactful donation which will remove the medical debt burden for thousands of families in Orange County, Florida,” shared Adeena Eisen, RIP representative. “Faith communities have been incredible champions of our work and we are awed by their continued commitment to removing the financial and emotional burden of past due healthcare debt. It’s been my pleasure to collaborate with them.”
Lake Nona earned the moniker “Medical City” before it formally opened in 2010. Just seven miles from Orlando International Airport, Lake Nona is home to a cluster of hospitals, universities and research facilities – including Nemours Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center, the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, and the University of Florida Research and Academic Center.