The state of Ohio is providing financial assistance to its citizens through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to help those struggling with medical debt. The program is being led by Toledo City Council member Michele Grim and aims to provide relief to those facing financial hardship due to medical bills.
To be eligible for assistance, Ohio residents must have a household income less than four times the federal poverty level and medical debt that exceeds 5% of their income. The state is partnering with a nonprofit organization, RIP Medical Debt, that buys medical debt and wipes it clean for those in need. Grim estimates that up to $240 million of eligible Ohio citizens’ debt will be eliminated through this program.
Grim also stated that medical debt can happen to anyone and is the leading cause of bankruptcy. Research shows that it harms housing and food security and worsens health outcomes. Grim’s initiative will help some of the most vulnerable residents as well as working-class and middle-class families.
According to Casey Quinlan, the non-profit organization is currently purchasing and repaying citizens’ medical debts. However, they only have an estimate of the total amount of debt they will be responsible for at this moment. The exact amount of debt will not be revealed until the organization has established deals with local hospitals. These agreements will specify the exact debts that the organization will be responsible for paying off. Until these agreements are finalized, the nonprofit will only have a rough idea of how much debt it will be dealing with. This means that their intentions and attempts to minimize citizens’ debts may change depending on the outcome of the negotiations with the hospitals