Local church works to cancel Pennsylvanians’ $1 million medical debt

Two local Episcopal churches, Hope Church in Mannheim and St. Luke’s Church in Lebanon, are working together to eliminate more than $1 million in medical debt for Pennsylvania residents.

The Help, Healing, and Hope campaign aims to raise $10,000 by May 12 to purchase and forgive medical debt. The church is now about $2,000 short of its goal.

Medical debt accounts for more than half of all debt collections in the United States. For-profit institutions often purchase these debts at discounted prices from hospitals and health care providers in an attempt to recover the full amount from patients and their families.

Charities are beginning to purchase and forgive medical debt to help ease this burden. It is estimated that a donation of $10,000 can be used to purchase $1 million to $1.2 million in medical debt.

Father Bradley Mattson of Hope Church and Father David Zwifka of St. Luke’s Church are passionate about this project, inspired by their personal experience with medical debt after their daughter was suddenly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. said there is.

“She was rushed to CHOP in Philadelphia, where we lived for a week waiting to bring her back,” Father Mattson said. “Her condition is stable, but even though she is insured, it has been very difficult to process her bills.”

Mattson said the experience left him with medical debt on his radar. Mattson said he and his wife (who is also an Episcopalian priest) were lucky to have the resources and community to help them cope with the financial burden, but many in similar situations Not so lucky.

“So many people don’t have a community to help them in times like this, but we want the message to be: ‘You are known, loved, and you are We have a community,'” Mattson said.

It was my first time working with a church, but it ignited my enthusiasm for future collaborations. The campaign is aimed specifically at a Pennsylvania resident, who will have a debt relief letter sent to the debtor within 60 days of the end of the campaign. The parish plans to hold a large joint service to celebrate the campaign.

“We specifically chose Pennsylvania residents for our ‘Help, Heal, Hope’ campaign. We wanted to help our neighbors,” Mattson said.

To donate, visit the campaign website by May 12 or mail a check made to “Hope Church” with “Medical Debt” in the memo line to Hope Church, 2425 Mountain Road, Manheim, PA. Please send to 17545. A well-known nonprofit, RIP Medical Debt, helps those in need.

In addition to donations, individuals can also advocate for comprehensive health care and equitable access for all citizens by contacting elected federal, state, and local officials. St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Communications Her coordinator, Jennifer Hackett, urged all governments to push authorities to prioritize laws that keep citizens from risking poverty just to get needed medical care. I recommend it to people.

“Our Chancellor, Father David Zwifka, is always looking for ways for our parish to be more deeply involved in the wider community,” said Hackett. “This project is very much in line with what he recommends to us.”

“As he says, his job is to comfort the afflicted and torment the comfortable.”

Hackett said the Anglican Church advocates for inclusive health care and recognizes the need for universal and equitable access for all.

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