BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Staff Writer
With racial injustices on the top of people’s minds in the past month, Greg Martin found a way to help relieve injustices with paying off medical debt.
Martin, a former Clarkston resident and one of the key speakers at Clarkston Community Church, started the fundraiser Detroit Medical Debt Relief Campaign 2020 in partnership with RIP Medical Debt, a 501(C)(3) nonprofit whose sole purpose is to locate, purchase and then eliminate unpaid and unpayable medical debt.
“My wife and I went back and forth on all numbers of systemic racial injustices. The stat that caught us was one in every three Black American under the age of 65 carries some sort of medical debt versus one in every five White Americans under the age of 65,” said Martin, campaign organizer, adding Detroit’s population is 79 percent of Black Americans and the debt is $66.3 million.
“Debt can be generational and is a systemic obstacle in the application for loans, mortgages, jobs and other life advancements,” said Martin.
“When we were talking about some injustices we can do something about this was one were we could lift debt off of somebody’s back,” he said. “We can do something. While this campaign is not a fix-all, we believe it’s a small step towards leveling the playing field, and a small tangible step we can take to address systemic racism.”
Martin had heard about RIP Medical Debt on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver and looked more into it. He found RIP Medical Debt could do local campaigns and there wasn’t anything for Detroit yet.
“We asked if we could get a campaign going,” Martin said. “We got some initial donors to jump in and get the ball rolling. Now, we are rolling it out to get it to be community wide and get some potential corporate sponsors.”
One dollar donated to RIP relieves $100 of medical debt. Within the first four days of launching the Detroit campaign on June 19 on social media, enough money was raise to wipe out $2,050,000 in medical debt of Detroiters.
Martin said one way the community can help is by donating, even a little bit.
“Any donation is super helpful. I say that if I put down 25 bucks that actually pays off $2,000 of medical debt which is a lot for someone who can’t get out of medical debt,” he said. “Small and big donations are super helpful during this campaign.”
Another way to help is to help get the word out.
“This is a systemic issue that doesn’t get addressed often because if you don’t know the stats, you think everyone has medical coverage. Well, no,” Martin added. “If we are the only ones running this campaign, it isn’t going to go very far. But, if a bunch of people grab it and make it their own, then we could potentially erase all the debt in Detroit.”
Working with third party credit data providers, RIP Medical Debt works with third party credit data providers. It searches bundled debt portfolios to locate accounts meeting its criteria for financial relief. RIP then negotiates to buy portfolios at a steep discount, on average a penny on the dollar. One dollar donated to RIP relieves approximately $100 of medical debt. Once RIP buys the debt it is completely forgiven on behalf of the campaign donors.
Funds raised are used to pay off medical debts of Detroit residents. To donate, visit https://secure.qgiv.com/event/detroitmi2020.
BY WENDI REARDON PRICE