A Maryland church has wiped out nearly $2 million in medical debt impacting about 900 individuals and families across 14 counties in the Old Line state thanks to a generous donation.
Letters were sent out on Monday to many across the state of Maryland telling them that their medical debts have been eliminated — some as large as $100,000 and some as small as $200.
The best part of all, they were told that their debt was eliminated with no strings attached thanks to the “Churches of Annapolis.”
Around Christmastime, attendees of Revolution Annapolis, a medium-sized nondenominational church based in the state’s capital, began fundraising to help brothers and sisters in their local area escape from the clutches of medical debt.
According to lead Pastor Kenny Camacho, they were inspired by a John Oliver piece on HBO and the success that a Texas church had last year when it raised enough funds to erase medical debt for over 4,000 families.
In January, the Revolution Annapolis made a $15,000 donation to RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit that buys medical debt for pennies on the dollar through the collection system and forgives the debt in a way that those in debt incur no costs.
While the initial goal was to eliminate the debt for people in Annapolis, the $15,000 was enough to eliminate all the medical debt for sale in Annapolis and 14 Maryland counties.
“Initially, they found about $50,000 or so in debt in Annapolis. So we asked them to start spreading the circle bigger … to make a bigger impact with the amount of money that we were able to raise,” Camacho told The Christian Post in a phone interview. “At the end, we were able to raise $15,000 and they were able to use that to buy just shy of $1.9 million in 14 counties spreading out from Annapolis in Eastern, Maryland.”
Camacho stressed that the gift of medical forgiveness comes with no strings attached. He doesn't want recipients to feel that they owe anything.
“That is a core part of our belief system and our structure. We think this is a practical and tangible way that we can help people — regardless of whether they are part of a church or not — experience forgiveness that impacts their lives in a meaningful way,” he explained. “We hope that is kind of the taste of the larger message that we would like to communicate to people about what it means to have debt forgiven.”
Camacho explained that churches should strive to be the “good news” within their local communities and hopes to see churches in other areas raise funds to eliminate medical debt in their areas.
“The cities that have churches in them should be different because Christians are in those cities,” Camacho contended. “So we want Annapolis and Maryland to look different because we are here. We think this is one of the ways that we can do that.”
Revolution Church, a mobile church of about 170 members who meet in an elementary school, now aims to build a coalition of local churches and nonprofits that work together to tackle the “debt ladder” and purchase and forgive debt earlier in the collections process.
Specifically, Camacho said, he would like to see organizations working with hospitals to buy and forgive medical debt “at its source.”
“We are open to doing something similar in years to come although it will take time. We will have to spread that circle a lot larger or it will take time to accumulate more debt for sale in our area,” he explained. “We are not giving up.”
Last year, Covenant Church based in Carrollton, Texas, donated over $100,000 to RIP Medical Debt to pay off over $10 million in debt impacting over 4,229 families in the area.
"We decided to put up $100,000. Man, can I tell you it is the easiest decision we have ever made," Pastor Stephen Hayes told his congregation upon announcing the donation.