More than 3,200 households in Oklahoma and Kansas will have a total of $5.2 million in medical debt wiped out by the area’s United Church of Christ conference.
The UCC Kansas-Oklahoma Conference raised $40,000, which was sent to RIP Medical Debt, a New York–based nonprofit that buys medical debt for pennies on the dollar.
The Rev. Chris Moore, lead pastor at Tulsa’s Fellowship Congregational Church, said the act is more about justice than charity.
"During a pandemic, it becomes even more important for the church to step in, disrupting unjust systems like ones that subjects people to financial ruin simply because they’ve become sick or injured," Moore said.
UCC Kansas-Oklahoma Conference President Bobbie Henderson of Tulsa said being thrust into medical debt hurts every aspect of a person’s life.
"It’s always on your mind, interrupting your sleep, shadowing you at work, undermining the quality of your relationships and, if children are involved, impacting their well being, too, as they absorb the despair and fear in the adults in their lives," Henderson said.
UCC started a medical debt abolishment project in 2019 and has so far wiped out $57 million nationwide.