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Feb 24, 2024

Cleveland City Council invested $1.9 million to erase Clevelanders old medical debt through RIP Medical Debt and so far, nearly $170 million has been erased.

Recently, the MetroHealth System announced an agreement that will help erase $136,859,290 worth of medical debt for133,093 health system’s patients from Cleveland. 

Impacted residents do not need to apply, and there is no application process. Instead, debt relief recipients will receive a letter from RIP Medical Debt, a national nonprofit, indicating which debt(s) have been eliminated. RIP Medical works with hospital systems across the country to let it purchase large, bundled portfolios of past due medical debt belonging to those least able to pay. Instead of trying to collect, RIP Medical erases the debt. Those who qualify for medical debt relief are either four times or below the federal poverty level or those whose medical debts are 5% or more of their annual income. 

Cleveland City Council passed legislation in April 2023 to provide RIP Medical with federal pandemic recovery funds. At the time, it was roughly estimated this funding would eliminate about $181 million of Clevelanders’ medical debt for about 50,000 residents. However, the projection for number of individuals served has been exceeded. This funding is being used to erase $136,859,290 in debt for 133,093 Cleveland residents who are MetroHealth patients. In November, City Council announced it had worked with RIP Medical to erase more than $33 million in debt held by another local hospital system. City Council will continue to communicate on future debt abolishment.

RIP Medical used private donations to acquire debts of MetroHealth patients outside of the Cleveland city limits. 

“City Council members are thrilled this is helping so many Cleveland residents by removing a huge weight or burden from their lives, and we thank MetroHealth for supporting this initiative” said Councilman Kris Harsh, who helped bring the initiative to Council and co-sponsored the legislation. “I’m grateful for the unanimous support of my colleagues to fund RIP Medical and proud this initiative is having a positive impact for so many more Clevelanders than we had expected.”

RIP Medical was founded in 2014 with the purpose of strengthening communities by abolishing financially burdensome medical debt. Since then, the organization has helped relieve more than $10.4 billion in medical debt for over 7 million individuals and families.

"We are extremely grateful ...  to erase medical debts for those most burdened and also to the Cleveland City Council for funding a large portion of this debt relief effort,” shares RIP Medical Debt president and CEO Allison Sesso. “This relief, made possible by a collaboration of invested stakeholders, will remove a barrier to future care and hopefully also lessen the mental health burden associated with carrying debt.”