HealthSomerville city councilor looks to abolish medical debt

Somerville city councilor looks to abolish medical debt


Eliminating medical debt for hundreds of residents might appear to be a frightening process, however Somerville Metropolis Councilor Willie Burnley Jr. is up for the problem.

Burnley is main the cost by requesting metropolis officers take into account allocating $200,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to crew up with RIP Medical Debt, a nationwide nonprofit that abolishes medical debt throughout the nation.

If authorised by Mayor Katjana Ballantyne, the $200,000 allocation is estimated to succeed in 5,000 of Somerville’s roughly 80,000 residents as early as this summer season, wiping out $4.3 million in debt, Burnley informed the Herald on Tuesday.

To be eligible, Somerville residents should have a family revenue as much as 4 occasions the federal poverty line or their medical debt is 5% or extra of their annual family revenue, in line with a proposal doc.

Eradicating the debt could be for pennies on the greenback, Burnley stated. Somerville could be the primary municipality within the Bay State to collaborate with RIP Medical Debt, he stated. The nonprofit, based in 2014, has a presence in Toledo, New Orleans and Pittsburgh in addition to in a number of counties throughout the U.S.

“Abolishing medical debt for Somerville is about releasing up folks economically, about therapeutic them bodily to allow them to exit and get extra preventative care,” Burnley stated. “It’s additionally about understanding that the federal government could be a device to make sure we now have human rights on this nation.”

Greater than 100 million Individuals reside with medical debt totaling almost $200 billion, in line with nationwide reviews. Massachusetts has the bottom common medical debt per resident within the nation at $975, in line with a examine final yr by Good RX, a nationwide remedy entry firm.

RIP Medical Debt President and CEO Allison Sesso in an electronic mail to the Herald stated she has seen heightened curiosity in municipalities eager to companion along with her nonprofit, particularly through the COVID-19 pandemic and in mild of the federal ARPA funds. RIP Medical Debt has eradicated $8.5 billion for greater than 5.5 million households dealing with monetary hardship since 2014.

The one approach to determine how a lot medical debt metropolis residents have is by working straight with space hospitals and medical facilities, Burnley stated.  Somerville residents gained’t want to use or present documentation that they meet eligibility standards, he stated.

“As a believer in common applications, I’m fairly in opposition to means-testing and buying and selling forms round having to offer documentation for issues,” he stated. “The hospitals typically have all of this info already.”

Burnley’s proposal is an element of a bigger $10 million the town initiative is enterprise to offer help for 501(c)3 nonprofits. The Metropolis Council’s public well being and public security committee will hear extra about Burnley’s request throughout a Feb. 13 assembly.


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