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Undue Medical Debt Receives Transformative Gift from Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

$50 Million Grant Will Abolish Medical Debt in Communities Across the US and Aid in the Nation’s Economic Recovery from the Pandemic

New York, NY – Tuesday, December 15, 2020. Undue Medical Debt gratefully announces a $50 million gift from philanthropist Mackenize Scott, the largest in the organization’s history. 

“Our deepest gratitude to Ms. Scott for her compassionate and most generous gift. This is a gamechanger for Undue Medical Debt, allowing us to move towards our goals in a greatly accelerated way,” said Allison Sesso, Undue Medical Debt’s executive director. “We will immediately put this generous donation to work against our vision that includes the strategic engagement of communities across the country, to achieve health equity for all.”

Since its founding in 2014, Undue Medical Debt has abolished more than $3 billion of medical debt for over 2 million Americans. On average, one dollar donated to Undue relieves $100 of medical debt for those who are two times the federal poverty level or below, whose total medical debt equals 5% or more of their gross annual income or are insolvent.

Medical debt is an American crisis. Forty-one percent of working age Americans are paying off medical debts or struggling to do so. An additional 7 million elderly adults struggle to pay medical bills. Two-thirds of personal bankruptcies cite medical debt as a key factor. The pandemic has worsened this problem: between February and May of this year 5.4 million Americans lost their health coverage – more people than have ever lost coverage in a year. 

Ms. Scott shared her reason for the donations on Medium, saying, “Witnessing the determination, creativity, and compassion of people in a crisis has been inspiring… [like] two former debt collections executives enabling donors to anonymously forgive $1,000 in crushing medical debt for struggling families with every gift of $10.”

Medical debt is recognized as a major social determinant of health and disproportionately disenfranchises communities of color by lowering credit scores, blocking access to new lines of credit and decreasing the likelihood that one seeks future medical care. By working directly with community foundations, patient advocates and local stakeholders, Undue plans to continue pioneering its model of community action to acquire and eradicate debts directly from hospital organizations beginning in 2021.

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Since being founded in 2014 by two former debt collectors, Undue Medical Debt has acquired, and abolished, more than $3 billion of oppressive medical debt, helping over 2 million individuals get out from under the burden of crushing medical debt. Undue works with individuals, faith-based organizations, foundations and corporations. On average, one dollar donated to Undue forgives $100 of medical debt, empowering every donor to have an outsized impact. Undue rose to national prominence on an episode of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver in which Undue facilitated the abolishment of $15M in medical debt. To learn more, visit https://unduemedicaldebt.org/