One of the projects the Life is Calling Committee has been planning is on the impact of medical debt in people’s lives. Thousands of families in our community are burdened by insurmountable medical debt, contributing to other dilemmas such as ruined credit, bankruptcy, and homelessness.
On Sunday, April 24 at 5:00 p.m., the Life is Calling Committee will host a panel discussion on this dilemma. It will be a bridge event, building connections with our surrounding community, as we publicize this opportunity to others.
In 2019, we started a discussion with East Alabama Medical Center and other churches about the possibility of a Medical Debt Forgiveness Project. The conversations were interrupted by the pandemic, but we started them again in the fall 2021. EAMC identified 2,630 families with the burden of medical debt, living well beneath the federal poverty line. Each family did not have health insurance and were self-payers.
The combined debt of these families is about 17.9 million dollars which encompasses a six-year period. East Alabama Medical Center agreed to receive 2% of these funds through donations, and they would forgive the remainder of the debt. Several churches have participated in this effort to raise about $358,000 in order to forgive the medical debt.
Through our Mission Committee, Auburn First Baptist contributed $15,000 to this effort, which forgives $750,000 in medical debt. The families will receive a letter notifying them that their debt is forgiven.
The committee felt this project was significant, so they have planned a panel discussion on medical debt with health care professionals. We will welcome these panelists:
- Frances Ford – Perry County Health Care Coordinator & Executive Director of Sowing Seeds of Hope
- Dr. Gwen Cattledge – Professor, Department of Public Health, Mercer University
- Sutricia Johnson – Director of Case Management, East Alabama Medical Center
We will also welcome Reverend Laura Eason, Chaplain at EAMC, to share an update about the Medical Debt Forgiveness Project. We are thankful to have partnered with others in our community to support families suffering from medical debt, and we look forward to learning more about this dilemma.